Lumbar Spinal Stenosis

The most common area of back pain is in the lower back (lumbar). This area bears the stress of your weight throughout the day.

Lumbar spinal stenosis is a condition of the narrowing of the spinal canal in the lumbar region (lower back). As the spinal canal narrows, it can lead to compression of the spinal cord and nerves that run through it, which causes symptoms such as pain, numbness, tingling, or weakness in the lower back and legs.

Lumbar spinal stenosis is more common in older adults due to degenerative (age-related) changes in the spine. However, it can also occur in younger people due to certain underlying conditions such as congenital spinal abnormalities or spinal injuries.

What are the symptoms of lumbar spinal stenosis?

The symptoms of lumbar spinal stenosis can vary depending on the degree of stenosis and the level of compression on the nerves.

Some of the more common symptoms are:

  • Pain, numbness, or tingling sensations in the lower back, buttocks, legs, or feet
  • Weakness in the legs or feet
  • Loss of balance or coordination that leads to difficulty in walking or standing

In severe cases, symptoms may involve bowel or bladder dysfunction, including urinary or faecal incontinence due to disc herniation that presses on the nerves that go to the bowels or bladder.

What are the causes and risk factors of lumbar spinal stenosis?

The causes of lumbar spinal stenosis are often related to the natural aging process and wear and tear on the spine over time. Some specific causes and risk factors include:

  • Degenerative (age-related) changes: The spinal canal narrows due to wear and tear over time:
    • Arthritis (degeneration of the joint) causes inflammation and changes in the spine that can lead to stenosis.
    • Bony growths or bone spurs that are formed in response to the wear and tear from osteoarthritis can put pressure on the spinal cord and lead to stenosis.
    • Herniated discs can put pressure on the spinal cord and lead to stenosis.
    • Thickening of ligaments over time can bulge and intrude the spinal canal.
  • Past injuries to the spine: Spinal injuries and other forms of trauma such as dislocations or fractures that cause damage to the spinal canal can increase the risk of developing lumbar spinal stenosis.
  • Congenital abnormalities: Some people may be born with a narrow spinal canal, which can increase the risk of developing stenosis later in life.

How is lumbar spinal stenosis diagnosed?

Diagnosis is made based on various investigations. Your doctor will first evaluate your medical history and symptoms before conducting a physical examination.

A neurological evaluation will also be done to determine if nerve damage is contributing to your symptoms.

Imaging tests such as X-ray, CT scan, and MRI may also be done to get detailed pictures of the spine, and to confirm the diagnosis of spinal stenosis.

How is lumbar spinal stenosis treated?

Treatment for lumbar spinal stenosis varies depending on the severity of the symptoms. Treatments are limited to relieving symptoms as the narrowing of the spinal canal is irreversible.

Some common treatment options for lumbar spinal stenosis include:

  • Medications such as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) to reduce pain and inflammation.
  • Physiotherapy to strengthen the muscles in the back and legs and improve flexibility, which can help alleviate symptoms of lumbar spinal stenosis.
  • Steroid (corticosteroid) injection to relieve pain and inflammation.

Surgery may be necessary in server cases of lumbar spinal stenosis. Common surgical treatments include:

  • Laminectomy: This surgical option involves the removal of a portion of the vertebrae to create more space in the spinal canal and to relieve pressure on the spinal nerves.
  • Spinal fusion: This surgery may be needed in cases of severe arthritis or a herniated disc that can cause excessive motion between vertebras. Spinal fusion can help to stabilise the spine by permanently connecting two or more vertebrae.

Book an appointment at Pantai Hospitals

A dedicated and expert team of Orthopaedic specialists at Pantai Hospital is available for consultation to provide the best care and assistance.

Get in touch with us to book an appointment today if you have concerns or questions regarding Medial Collateral Ligament (MCL) injury. We assure you the best possible care tailored to your specific needs.

Pantai Hospital has been accredited by the Malaysian Society for Quality in Health (MSQH) for its commitment to patient safety and service quality.

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