Lumbar stenosis is a condition in which the spinal canal in the back's lumbar (lower) region narrows because of degeneration over time or because of injury or trauma. While everyone's spinal canal narrows to some extent with age, lumbar stenosis results when the canal narrows so much that it compresses the spinal cord or the nerves surrounding it.
The condition progressively worsens over time and can cause serious symptoms throughout the body since it affects the spinal cord, which is the body's nerve center. Lumbar stenosis most frequently affects the buttocks and legs.
Signs and Symptoms
The most common cause of lumbar stenosis is spinal degeneration, but it can occur in younger people who have a spinal injury or curvature of the spine.
You may experience the following symptoms with lumbar stenosis:
- A shooting pain down the side or back of the leg due to the spine compressing the sciatic nerve
- Leg pain that becomes worse with standing and walking
- Tingling, weakness, or numbness in the lower back, buttocks, and/or legs
Diagnosis and Treatment
The spine specialists at the Kelsey-Seybold Spine Center can diagnose lumbar stenosis using imaging technology, such as an MRI. In many cases, nonsurgical treatments are helpful in reducing pain associated with lumbar stenosis.
Your treatment plan may include:
- Activity modification, such as the use of a cane, since leaning forward tends to take the pressure off the lumbar spine
- Physical therapy and exercises
- Over-the-counter or prescription anti-inflammatory medications
- Epidural injections of anti-inflammatory steroids
If nonsurgical treatments are ineffective, we may recommend surgical options. The most common surgery performed for lumbar stenosis is laminectomy. During a laminectomy, an incision is made in the lower back and the spinal cord is decompressed by removing part of the bone or disc that is pressing on the nerves.
If you’re experiencing frequent or continual pain in your lower back, buttocks, and/or legs, it's not something you need to live with. The spine specialists at Kelsey-Seybold Spine Center in Houston can perform tests to determine if you have lumbar stenosis and provide nonsurgical treatment options or top-quality surgical care, if needed. Contact us today for an appointment.