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Lumbar Stenosis Symptoms & Causes

Getting Treatment for Lumbar Stenosis

Spinal stenosis is a medical term that describes a narrowing of the nerve canal within the spinal column. Although this condition can occur at different levels of the spine, it typically impacts the neck and lower back regions. Cervical stenosis involves the neck, while lumbar stenosis affects the lower back. Like other spinal conditions, some people do not have symptoms, while others experience debilitating effects.

If you suffer from lower back pain and it seems as though it is becoming worse with time, do not hesitate to contact us at Key Clinics. Board-certified neurosurgeon Dr. Joel D. Siegal treats patients with various spinal conditions including lumbar stenosis.

Symptoms of Lumbar Stenosis

With lumbar stenosis, some patients do not have any or only mild symptoms.  Others, however, can experience varying degrees of leg and/or feet muscle weakness, tingling, numbness, and cramping affecting one or both sides, especially after walking or standing for a long time.  Low back pain could become debilitating too. Because the symptoms of this spinal condition tend to worsen gradually, you do not want to wait a long time to seek medical treatment.

Risk Factors for Lumbar Stenosis

Because wear and tear associated with age is the most likely cause of lumbar stenosis, the majority of patients are 50 and older. Around that age, the body begins to go through degenerative changes, some that lead to this spinal condition. Other risk factors for lumbar stenosis include a genetic disease that affects the development of muscle and bone, trauma, scoliosis, and other types of congenital deformities of the spine.

Causes of Lumbar Stenosis

Although some people have a narrowing of the spine at birth, most often, wear and tear is the culprit. Lumbar Stenosis is also commonly linked to Osteoarthritis, a form of Arthritis. Both of these affect the elderly, which is why so many aging adults have this spinal condition. However, there are other causes of Lumbar Stenosis.

  • Herniated Disc – Although people can herniate a disc for a variety of reasons, with age, the cushioning material between the vertebrae becomes dry. If someone has any cracks in the outside portion of a disc, the soft inner material can leak out, putting pressure on nerves in the spinal cord.
  • Bone Spurs – Bone spurs consist of small formations of calcium spikes that can develop from damage caused by osteoarthritis. As they grow, bone spurs push inward into the spinal canal, causing the space to narrow. Bone spurs can also compress nerves in the spine. Some adults develop Paget’s disease, another cause of bone overgrowth that involves the spine.
  • Tumors – Tumors, which are abnormal masses, can form inside the space between the vertebrae and spinal cord. They can also form inside the membranes that cover the spinal cord. Although somewhat rare, tumors are another reason for developing lumbar stenosis.
  • Thickening Ligaments – With age, ligaments that hold the bones of the spine together like rubber bands become thick and stiff. When that happens, they can form bulges that press into the spinal canal, causing it to narrow.
  • Injuries to the Spine – Whether the result of a serious fall, car accident, or something else, a spinal injury in the form of a fracture can occur in people of any age. That damage to the interior of the spinal canal can lead to narrowing. Even back surgery can cause tissue swelling around the spine, compressing nerves, or the spinal cord itself.

If you experience any of the symptoms of lumbar stenosis mentioned or have a firm diagnosis but have not yet seen a neurosurgeon, contact us at Key Clinics right away. If left untreated, this spinal condition can lead to complications, such as weakness, issues with balance, numbness, and incontinence. It can even cause permanent damage, including paralysis. Call us or schedule an appointment online today.