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Lumbar Spinal Stenosis
Typically affecting adults over 50 years of age, lumbar spinal stenosis refers to the narrowing of the space between the lumbar canal - this canal contains the spinal cord and hence when this space narrows, this will lead to:
In severe cases, it may also lead to loss of bladder and bowel control.
Compression of the spinal cord at the lumbar (lower) region
When our spinal cord is compressed due to the narrowing of the spinal canal, it may result in:
How severe it is depends on:
- how strong the pressure is on the spinal cord
- where the pressure is located on the spinal cord
Gentle/mild symptoms may be simple mild symptoms of weakness and pain, but if the pressure is very strong to the nerves, it may feel as though that the legs cannot feel anything nor have any control whatsoever. If it's really severe, it may also impact on control of bladder, bowel and even sexual functions.
Patients with lumbar spinal stenosis often report that if they bend just a little forward as they walk or sit, it will help to relieve the weakness and pain. This happens because when they bend forward, it decompresses the compression a little (of course, if they bend backwards it makes the symptoms worse).
Related article: Patient may consider our computerized spinal decompression traction therapy.
Why does our spinal canal narrows?
Most of the time, our spinal canal may narrow simply because of degeneration and degenerative changes in our spine bones as we age.
Degeneration process will cause:
- excessive bone growth (known as osteophytes)
- enlargement of ligaments (ligamental hypertrophy)
- decrease/loss of spinal disc height
And those are the main reasons why lumbar spinal stenosis usually affects over 50 years of age - it's mainly related to age and age-related degeneration.
What are the treatment options if i've lumbar spinal stenosis
For patients who have severe condition/symptoms with weakness or loss of
- strength/movement in legs
- bladder, bowel and sexual functions
- patients are recommended to have surgery to take the relief off the nerves, especially if it's early stage (if left for too long, compressed nerves may be permanently damaged).
For non-urgent/conservative cases, patients are recommended for physiotherapy to:
These will help to offload the compression in the back and neck, and improve strength and function (not to mention independence and happiness of patients).
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