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Lumbar Canal Stenosis Overview:
The lumbar canal stenosis indicate the narrowing of the spinal canal or the tunnels through which the nerves and other structures communicate with the canal. Usually, this medical condition occurs due to age-related changes which may decrease the size of the canal or due to the movement of one of the vertebrae out of alignment. The lumbar canal stenosis or the narrowing of the side canals that protect the nerves could cause pinching of the nerve root of the spinal chord. As the diameter of the canal becomes narrow, it will increase the irritation of the nerves.
Lumbar Canal Stenosis Risk Factors:
The lumbar canal stenosis risk factors include the following:
- Age: People in the age range of 50 and more are more prone to develop the stenosis of the spine.
- Smoking: The ingredients present in the cigarettes can constrict the blood vessels and other passageways in the body.
- Genetics: Inherited traits can make some individual’s more prone to stenosis.
- Obesity: Excess body weight can cause more stress son the spine, thereby result into instability.
- Injury history: An individual having experienced a spinal injury early in life can affect the spinal stability later on.
Causes & Diagnosis of Lumbar Canal Stenosis::
Arthritis, accidents, falls, wear and tear on bones of the spine and joints can cause the lumbar canal stenosis. The lumbar spinal canal is a space present inside the lower spine that carries the nerves to your legs. The growth of the bones and tissue around the canal over the course of many years also cause narrowing of this canal. The lumbar spinal canal narrowing will squeeze the nerves that go through it. This squeezing may cause back pain, weakness and leg pain.
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Consult our doctor can probably tell you if you have lumbar canal stenosis by asking you about your symptoms. The diagnosis of lumbar canal stenosis is based on clinical exam and a thorough medical history. In some cases, doctor may order special tests like imaging and EMG tests and X-rays of the spine to confirm a diagnosis.
Symptoms & Treatments Lumbar Canal Stenosis:
The symptoms of lumbar canal stenosis include leg pain, back pain, numbness or weakness in the legs, hips, groin, buttocks and lower back pain. Some people suffering from this condition have reported experiencing cramps in the legs. Often these symptoms worsen when standing or walking and may get better while sitting, lying down or slightly leaning forward.
Usually, the symptoms get better as you sit or lie in the fetal position, i.e. with your knees tucked up to your chest. This position will open the lumbar canal and take the pressure of the nerves that go to the legs.
In severe cases, the lumbar canal stenosis can cause partial or complete bladder or bowel incontinence.
Treatments for Lumbar canal stenosis:
The treatment will depend on how bad your symptoms of lumbar canal stenosis are. If you have mild pain and duration of the pain hasn’t been for too long then you can try a physical therapy program or follow an exercise routine. This will strengthen your back muscles and also help improving your posture. Your doctor may prescribe you certain medications that will help to reduce the spine inflammation (swelling and soreness).
If you are suffering from more severe symptoms, then you should immediately fix an appointment a spine surgeon. Your surgeon will perform the spine operation which will help to take the pressure off the nerves in your lower spine. The surgery works well for most patient suffering from lumbar canal stenosis.
There are two different types of treatments for treating lumbar canal stenosis:
Non-operative treatment options: Aging of the spine is a natural and irreversible process and so the non-operative treatment options are aimed to remove the pressure from the nerves. The removal of pressure from the nerves allows its normal functionality. This will help to relieve the pain related with lumbar canal stenosis. The non-operative treatments are physical therapy, medications and pain.
- Physical Therapy: Physical therapists will work with you to develop an appropriate exercise program that will help to relieve the pressure from your nerves. This will help relieve the symptoms of weakness and pain.
- Medications: Your doctor will prescribe pain-relieving medicines also known as analgesics or the non-steriodal anti-inflammatory medicines (NSAIDs) to decrease the pain and increase your activity levels. The medications might be taken as patches, pills, topical creams, injections and ointments.
- Pain Therapy: An injection sometimes called as nerve blocks or the epidural blocks will be given in the lower back may help to reduce the inflammation and swelling of the nerve roots.
- Surgery for lumbar canal stenosis: A surgical procedure called as laminectomy is used to treat people who have progressive symptoms of lumbar canal stenosis. The doctor might also prescribe surgery for people who have persistent symptoms, despite undergoing medical treatment. During this procedure, the central tunnels of the vertebrae are opened so that the never pressure is relieved. A latest surgical procedure involves the placement of a bullet-shaped metal spacer between the vertebral spinous processes, mechanically optimizing the diameter of the spinal canal.
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