Like various parts of our bodies, the spine changes through the years. As time passes, the spinal canal gradually narrows and a condition known as lumbar spinal stenosis may develop.
Lumbar spinal stenosis is an age-related condition typically affecting persons over 60 years old. Interestingly, although men and women have the same chance of developing lumbar spinal stenosis, women are more likely to experience symptoms requiring medical treatment. Diagnosis and treatment of spinal stenosis are just some of the services our medical team provides.
Causes of Lumbar Spinal Stenosis
With lumbar spinal stenosis, the spine’s bones and soft tissue can become hard and/or overgrown over time. While lumbar spinal stenosis actually affects the lower back, it can also affect the spinal cord and surrounding nerve roots. Some people, usually men, may develop spinal canal stenosis as a result of genetics. This is known as congenital spinal stenosis and symptoms of lumbar spinal stenosis often appear between the ages of 30 and 50.
Aside from aging, the leading cause for lumbar spinal stenosis is arthritis. The spine’s interverterbral disks which enable strength, support, and flexibility, weaken over time. This narrows the spaces between the disks and the space may collapse. The facet joints, located behind the spine, are forced to take on extra weight and ligaments in the lower back grow larger. Such changes squeeze the nerve endings.
Lumbar Spinal Stenosis Symptoms
Lumbar spinal stenosis causes pressure on the spinal cord and nerves. Such pressure can result in serious pain, leg numbness, and weakness. However, not everyone will experience the same lumbar spinal stenosis symptoms. Some people may have more or less back pain than others based on the severity of arthritis present. Additionally, those with spinal canal stenosis often experience sciatica. Sciatica is caused by the pressure lumbar spinal stenosis places on spinal nerves. This burning, shooting pain or ache can radiate down the leg and may even affect the feet.
Spinal canal stenosis patients may be afflicted with numbness, tingling, and weakness in these areas. The weakness can affect one or both legs and there may also be the chance of foot drop, where it feels as though the foot is slapping against the ground while walking.
Simply sitting or leaning forward may alleviate spinal stenosis pain. Such activity provides relief because it may increase the nerves’ available area. On the other hand, in some cases lumbar spinal stenosis pain may be worsened by standing up straight or walking. Given the various factors and subtle differences, you should visit experts in the field for diagnosis and treatment of lumbar spinal stenosis.