Your spinal cord is a bundle of nerves that runs through a tunnel formed by your vertebrae. The tunnel is called the spinal canal. Lumbar canal spinal stenosis is the narrowing of the spinal canal in the lower part of your back. Stenosis, which means narrowing, can cause pressure on your spinal cord or the nerves that go from your spinal cord to your muscles.
Spinal stenosis can happen in any part of your spine but is most common in the lower back. This part of your spine is called your lumbar area.
If you have lumbar spinal stenosis, you may have trouble walking or need to lean forward to relieve pressure on your lower back.
Early lumbar spinal stenosis may have no symptoms. In most people, symptoms develop gradually over time. Symptoms may include:
Pressure on nerves in the lumbar region can also cause more severe symptoms known as cauda equine syndrome. If you have any of these symptoms, please seek urgent medical attention:
The most common cause of spinal stenosis is osteoarthritis, the gradual wear and tear that happens to your joints over time. That is why most people who develop symptoms of spinal stenosis are 50 or older. Women have a higher risk of developing spinal stenosis than men.
Besides osteoarthritis, other conditions or circumstances that can cause spinal stenosis include:
To diagnose lumbar spinal stenosis, Dr Shiva will ask you questions about your symptoms and perform a physical exam. During the physical exam, Dr Shiva will look for signs of spinal stenosis, such as loss of sensation, weakness, and abnormal reflexes.
Additional tests may be required to diagnose, including:
Dr Shiva will likely suggest nonsurgical treatment first unless you have the following:
Dr Shiva will consider many factors in deciding if surgery is right for you. These include:
The two main surgical procedures to treat lumbar spinal stenosis are laminectomy and spinal fusion.