Lumbar spinal stenosis is the narrowing of your spinal canal. This canal exists as a home for the major nerves in your body, it’s formed by the presence of a series of discs which create a tunnel. The nerves that pass through this tunnel are essential for feeling a movement, particularly in the lower part of your body.
When this canal, or tunnel, narrows, you’ll find that pressure is placed on the nerves. This means your nerves may become damaged, you may not feel things properly from the lower part of your body, and you’re likely to experience significant pain at the site of the narrowing.
The most common area for the narrowing to occur is your lower back, this is the part known as your lumbar and is the reason this condition is referred to as lumbar spinal stenosis.
It’s not just pain that you’ll need to deal with. Spinal stenosis can make it difficult to walk any distance, you may lose feeling in your legs, ad you may even develop problems controlling your bladder and bowel.
Unfortunately, there is no cure for spinal stenosis, although there are several treatment options.
The preferred option is minimally invasive spine surgery, surgeons can get to the site of the stenosis. They will then remove bone spurs and widen the space between the vertebrae. In some cases, they will even fuse some vertebrae together to strengthen your lower back. This should alleviate the issue.
Other treatment options include physical therapy to strengthen your back and stomach, or even a brace to support your back. You may also try anti-inflammatory medicines or acupuncture to alleviate the symptoms and help you live a normal life.
Causes of Lumbar Spinal Stenosis
The most common cause is osteoarthritis, but it can also be a result of an injury to your spine, a tumor, bone disease, or even a past spinal surgery.
Of course, there are many possible causes of lower back pain. That’s why you’ll need to have the following tests completed to confirm that you have lumbar spinal stenosis:
- X-Ray of your lumbar spine
An X-ray should show bone growth, known as spurs. These push on your spinal nerves and cause pain.
It may be necessary for a CT scan or even an MRI to be completed. This will allow your doctor to see the spinal canal and nerves more clearly, to find damaged spots.
- Other Tests
It’s also possible you’ll have a bone scan to check for osteoporosis. Some practices will also inject a dye and do a CT scan known as a myelogram or an electrical test of muscle activity.
How To Prevent It From Happening
The majority of people have some form of osteoarthritis of the spine by the time they are aged 50, making it difficult to prevent the onset of spinal stenosis.
However, you can reduce the risk by doing the following:
- Regular Exercise
Exercise is the best way to boost your overall health and strengthen the bones and muscles in your body. By exercising regularly you’ll be strengthening your lower back and this will help to support your spine, reducing the risk of issues.
Good exercise to try include walking, swimming, cycling, and weight training, all of which are good for your back.
Good posture is essential if you want to maintain back strength and reduce the risk of spinal stenosis. This isn’t just about standing straight, you also need to make sure that you sit properly in your chair and support your back. You should also get a firm mattress and lift correctly, especially when dealing with heavy weights.
If you’re overweight your body, and spine, will be under more pressure than it should be. Exercise and diet can help you to maintain a healthy weight and reduce stress on your lumbar region.
Of course, reducing your weight can also reduce the risk of a variety of other age-related diseases.
This alternative medicine has been known to have some success in helping to relieve the pain associated with spinal stenosis. It may not help you to prevent the onset but it can assist with controlling the symptoms and preventing it from getting worse.
Don’t forget, hot and cold treatment is effective for most forms of pain, it’s worth trying as soon as you feel the pain coming on.