Lumbar spinal stenosis is generally a condition of older age. It significantly reduces the quality of life. For evaluating the exact cause and best treatment option, the patient should consult the spine surgeon in Gurgaon.
What Is Lumbar Spinal Stenosis?
Lumbar vertebrae form the lower part of the spine. This section of the spine bears the weight of the body and improves flexibility and movement. The spine is formed by the association of various vertebrae. These vertebrae are arranged in such as fashion to form a tunnel known as the spinal canal. The spinal cord runs through this spinal canal. Spinal cord requires optimum width of this canal to smoothly go through it.
In some cases, this spinal canal becomes narrow leading to compression of the spinal cord. Though the spinal canal can get narrow at any place throughout the spinal canal, most often it gets narrowed in the lumbar region. This condition is termed as lumbar spinal stenosis. Spinal stenosis compresses the nerves that innervate the muscles.
What Are The Causes Of Lumbar Spinal Stenosis?
Following are some of the causes of lumbar spinal stenosis:
Tumors: Any abnormal growth inside the spinal canal may also cause spinal cord compression. These growths can be diagnosed through CT scan or MRI.
Thickened ligaments: Thickening and stiffing of the ligaments with time may cause spinal stenosis by bulging inside the spinal canal.
Bone overgrowth: Diseases such as Paget’s disease may cause bone overgrowth which may lead to spinal cord compression.
Herniated disk: Disk is the cushions present in between the vertebrae. These cushions, with age, ruptures and bulges into the spinal canal causing stenosis.
Spinal injuries: Spinal injury such as during accidents may cause vertebral dislocation which may alter the width of the spinal canal. Inflammation resulting from the spinal surgery also cause spinal stenosis.
Arthritis: Arthritis is one of the most common causes of spinal stenosis. Both osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis may cause this condition. Arthritis also results in an increased size of ligaments that further reduces the space for the spinal cord.
What Are The Symptoms Of Lumbar Spinal Stenosis?
Some of the symptoms of lumbar spinal stenosis include:
- Numbness and tingling sensation in legs.
- Weakness and cramping
- Reduced sexual functioning
- Moderate to severe pain in back
- Burning pain graduating from the buttocks to legs.
- Loss of control on bladder or bowel.
- Progressive pain
- Pain reduces during sitting or leaning forward
- “Foot drop” symptom
What Are The Risk Factors For Developing Lumbar Spinal Stenosis?
Following are some of the risk factors for spinal stenosis:
Age: Increasing age increases the risk of spinal stenosis. People over the age of 50 years generally suffer from this condition.
Underlying medical condition: Presence of various diseases such as Paget’s disease, osteoarthritis, and rheumatoid arthritis increases the risk of lumbar spinal stenosis.
History of spinal surgery: People who have the medical history of having spinal surgery at increased risk of developing spinal stenosis.
How Is Lumbar Spinal Stenosis Diagnosed?
Various diagnosed approaches are available for diagnosing spinal stenosis. These include:
Medical History: Neurologists will comprehensively evaluate the medical history by asking a various question related to the symptoms and if the patient has undergone spinal surgery in the past.
CT scan: Through Computed Tomography, the internal area of the spinal canal is viewed for any growth or nerve compression. CT scan is done by combining various X-ray images taken from different angles.
MRI: MRI provides a cross-sectional view of the spinal canal. It helps in identifying damage to ligaments and tumor growth.
X-rays: X-rays reveals any bony overgrowth inside the spinal canal that may compress the spinal cord.
What Are The Treatment Options For Lumbar Spinal Stenosis?
Treatment options for lumbar spinal stenosis include both non-invasive and invasive methods.
Non-invasive methods of treatment for spinal stenosis include:
- Analgesic and anti-inflammatory medications
- Physical therapy
- Steroidal injections
- Lumbar traction
- Chiropractic manipulation
- Anti-depressants and anti-seizure drugs
Invasive methods for treating spinal stenosis are:
- Spinal fusion
- Minimally invasive surgery
How To Prevent Lumbar Spinal Stenosis?
Although there is no way to completely prevent the occurrence of lumbar spinal stenosis the following few measures would certainly reduce its risk.
- Maintaining a healthy weight
- Proper sitting and sleeping posture
- Regular exercise
What Activities Should Be Avoided During Spinal Stenosis?
Following activities should be avoided to manage the symptoms of spinal stenosis:
- Lifting heavy weights
- Avoid standing or walking for a long period
- Avoid contact sports
- Avoid strenuous exercises
What Are The Complications Of Untreated Lumbar Spinal Stenosis?
If the symptoms of the spinal stenosis are not effectively managed and the condition remains untreated, this may lead to the following complications:
- Progressive pain, numbness, weakness and increased incidences of cramps
- Urinary incontinence
- Poor coordination and balance