What are the Symptoms of Lumbar Spinal Stenosis?

Posted on 01. Dec, 2010 by in Spinal Stenosis

Spinal Stenosis ImageLumbar spinal stenosis is the progressive narrowing of the spinal spaces that occurs in the lumbar segment of the spine. As there is only a limited amount of space in the spine, when debris begins to compress the spinal cord or nerves in the spine it can lead to problems.

Lumbar spinal stenosis is mostly age related and is more common in those who are over the age of 60, but may also be a result of a birth defect that has left you with an abnormally small amount of space in your spinal column.

Symptoms of Lumbar Spinal Stenosis

What symptoms you have will depend on where in your lower back your stenosis is located and how severe this narrowing is.

Listed below are a few lumbar spinal stenosis symptoms:

  • You may have pain in your lower back, this many also radiate down into your buttocks, thighs and legs. This pain may also worsen if you sit or stand for long periods of time
  • You may have muscle weakness or numbness in your lower extremities
  • In very severe cases it is possible to lose control of your bowel or bladder function. This could lead to incontinence or inability to urinate or defecate

Lumbar Spinal Stenosis Treatment

Conservative treatments for lumbar spinal stenosis should always be your fist option. While these treatments will not remove or eliminate the cause of your pain, by controlling your pain and other symptoms and working to strengthen your back you may notice a reduction in your pain.


Image of a pill bottleThere are many different types of medication that can be used to reduce pain when you have spinal stenosis. Which one is best for you will depend on how severe your pain is, if you have any swelling or inflammation, and how long you will need to take these medications for.  If your pain is mild you may be able to use over the counter medications such as Advil, Aleve, Aspirin, or Tylenol. If you have pain that is moderate to severe you may need to rely on Rx medications such as Celebrex, Vicodin, Percocet, or morphine.

Physical Therapy
Physical Therapy ImageThe main part of physical therapy will be exercises and stretches that can easily be done in less than 30 minutes per session. Spinal stenosis exercises and stretches will help to increase your strength, flexibility and range of motion in the back. By performing these exercises you may be able to remove the pressure on your spinal cord, and nerves. These exercises and stretches will need to be done for a few weeks time before you notice a change; it is important you give them time to start working.

Epidural Steroid Injections
Epidural Sterois InjectionThese injections are often used when oral medications are not able to control pain. They are only used for temporary treatment of inflammation and pain and are typically a mixture of cortisone (anti-inflammatory), and a pain reducer. You can expect the injection to last anywhere from a few weeks to a few months time, however you should limit these injections to no more than 3 times per year as the steroid in the medication can weaken nearby bones, joints, and tissues.

Lumbar Spinal Stenosis Surgery
Surgery would only be used as a last choice once all other treatments have failed and you are at the point where you are not able to function normally. The main goal for surgery would be to release any compression on your nerves and spinal cord by removing the debris in your spine, whether it is a herniated disc, a spinal bone spur, or as a result of thickened ligaments.

There are many different surgeries that can be used to accomplish this task, what is best for you will depend on the underlying cause for your lumbar spinal stenosis, your age, and your overall health. Keep in mind though, if the cause of your lumbar spinal stenosis is a degenerative disease that it may reoccur in the future and you may need more surgery.

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