Lumbar spinal stenosis is a narrowing of the spinal canal in your lower back (lumbar spine). Your spine is made of bony vertebrae stacked on top of each other. They are separated by spinal discs. A canal runs through the back portion of each vertebra, allowing the spinal cord to pass through the bone. When the canal narrows, it puts pressure on the spinal cord and nerves that branch off the spinal cord. Severe lumbar spinal stenosis can cause significant disability; however, it is not life threatening.
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What Causes Lumbar Spinal Stenosis in Las Vegas, NV?
Arthritis and degenerative disc disease are the most common causes of lumbar spinal stenosis. Spinal arthritis is the breakdown of the protective cartilage lining the facet joints, which connect your vertebrae. Degenerative disc disease happens when the spinal discs that cushion the vertebrae start to shrink and dry out.
Both conditions can lead to bone spurs (new bone growths that narrow the spinal canal). They also become more likely as you age. Most cases of spinal stenosis occur in people older than 60. By age 50, the majority (95 percent) of people have degenerative changes in their spine.
Spinal Stenosis Symptoms
Lumbar spinal stenosis may or may not cause symptoms. When they are present, common symptoms include:
- Pain in the back, buttocks, and legs
- Tingling and numbness in the buttocks and legs
- Weakness in the legs, causing foot drop in the affected leg
If you have symptoms, you may notice relief when leaning forward while sitting. This position increases the space within the spinal canal.
Treatment for Lumbar Spinal Stenosis
The goals of treatment for lumbar spinal stenosis are to limit disability and relieve symptoms. Treatment starts with nonsurgical approaches, including:
- Physical therapy
- Anti-inflammatory medicines
- Corticosteroid injections
These treatments will not cure the underlying problem, but they often restore function and provide relief from symptoms. Doctors do not recommend surgery unless symptoms are interfering with your quality of life.
You can help prevent lumbar spinal stenosis and degenerative changes in the spine by:
- Maximizing bone health
- Practicing proper body mechanics and good posture
- Strengthening your back and abdominal muscles
- Eating nutritious food and maintaining a healthy weight
Dignity Health - St. Rose Dominican hospitals doctors offer personalized treatment for lumbar spinal stenosis in Las Vegas and Henderson, NV.