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Treatment overview and more!
Lumbar Spinal Stenosis is a condition that primarily affects adults over 50, but it can occur in younger people who are born with a narrow spinal canal. It's quite prevalent, impacting approximately 250,000 to 500,000 US residents (about 1 per 1,000). As a chronic condition, it can significantly affect your quality of life, limiting mobility and causing daily discomfort.
To learn more about LSS, its causes, symptoms, and potential treatments, use the navigation buttons below. If you are ready to take the next step toward managing your pain, our Lumbar Spinal Stenosis specialists are ready to help. Use our contact form to schedule a new patient consultation, or contact us by phone.
Remember, early intervention for Lumbar Spinal Stenosis can make a significant difference in managing symptoms and improving your quality of life. Don't delay in seeking help.
I LOVE LOVE LOVE this office. I was helping my mom find a place for her arthritis pain, and I explained to them how bad it was. They were able to schedule me the same week! That's almost impossible at any doctor's office...and then add COVID..... I was thrilled. I took my mom, and everyone was absolutely so sweet and kind
- Donyasha B.
Dr. Rao. I can't find the words to tell you how much he has meant to me. I followed him from an old practice to his very new high tech office. They offer so many different areas of assistance to those with issues from nutrition to spinal surgery...and much more. His office is professional.
- Mom To2
Dr. Roa is such an amazing doctor! During my first visit he never tried to rush through my appt., he genuinely listened to all my concerns and then took his time to explain to me in detail all his recommendations and how they would help me.
- Nikki Walker
In the 3 years as a patient of Dr. Rao, it is my opinion that he is a phenomenal and extraordinary doctor. He keeps up to date with the latest treatment options, will sacrifice time no matter how many are in the waiting room to listen and explain. Dr. Rao has treated multiple patients with rare illnesses, and shows more empathy than any Dr. I’ve met.
- Mom To2
I have now been with Dr. Rao for 13 years. He is the most caring Doctor I have ever been to! Dr. Rao makes you feel very comfortable at all times. I would not want to go to any other Doctor... I go to the Hagerstown location, everyone is very nice
- Theresa R.
The entire staff from the folks at the front desk to the Nurse, to the Physicians Assistant to the scribe that records the visit for the doctor - (great idea so the Doctor can focus on the patient!!!)
- NVA F.
Completely the best care you could want the staff is so pleasant and caring and the doctors have true heart for healing, love being a patient here would give 10 stars if I could & absolutely the most caring during my procedure with Dr B
- Cathern C.
Always friendly, courteous, and efficient service. From the ladies, who work the front desk, to the nurses and the doctors. I've always had a good experience with the Harrisonburg office in Virginia.
They scheduled my appointment very quickly so that I can get to help that I needed immediately instead of like most places having to wait two to three weeks to get in I called and was able to be seen the next day
- John H.
After transitioning from a pain and spine doctor in Columbia, MD.. The intake staff member at Pain and Spine Specialist made the scheduling a breeze. They were able to get me in within a week.
Lumbar Spinal Stenosis Treatment Guide
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What Is Lumbar Spinal Stenosis
For someone experiencing pain in the lower back, you might think it is a common issue that will eventually go away on its own. Unfortunately, this might not be the case if you live with lumbar spinal stenosis. So what is spinal stenosis of lumbar region?
Understanding and addressing this condition is important as it can significantly impact a person's quality of life, mobility, and overall well-being.
Lumbar spinal stenosis is a medical condition that narrows the spinal canal in your lower back. This narrowing can exert pressure on the nerves traveling through the spine. When nerves are irritated or compressed, it can lead to spinal stenosis and sciatica. These conditions cause pain, tingling, numbness, or weakness in various parts of the body, such as the legs, arms, neck, or lower back.
Lumbar Spinal Stenosis Vs Thoracic Spinal Stenosis
Thoracic spinal stenosis, conversely, is a medical condition that narrows the spinal canal in your upper and middle back. This compression can lead to pain, numbness, weakness in the legs, and balance issues. Understanding this often-overlooked form of spinal stenosis is crucial, as it can significantly impact an individual's quality of life.
For someone who is experiencing pain in the lower back or neck, you might be thinking that it is a common issue and that it will just eventually go away on its own. Unfortunately, this might not be the case if you are living with lumbar spinal stenosis.
While lumbar spinal stenosis takes place in the neck or the lower back, symptoms vary depending on where the compression is taking place. Generally, symptoms might not show up until later on in life as the canal gradually narrows over time. However, there are some cases in which symptoms might show up earlier due to an injury or traumatic event.
Causes of Lumbar Spinal Stenosis
There are a variety of causes of spinal stenosis lumbar region. Age-related changes are the most common cause, but injuries, diseases, and genetic factors can also play a role. Here is a list of common causes of Lumbar Spinal Stenosis:
- Osteoarthritis: This is the most common cause of spinal stenosis. Osteoarthritis is a type of arthritis that occurs when flexible tissue at the ends of bones wears down. It can lead to the formation of bone spurs that can grow into the spinal canal.
- Rheumatoid Arthritis: This autoimmune disease can cause inflammation in any joint in the body, including the spine, which can result in spinal stenosis.
- Degenerative Disc Disease: Degenerative disc disease occurs when the discs in between the vertebrae of the spine lose some of their elasticity and become weakened over time. As a result, they can bulge into or compress the spinal canal, resulting in lumbar spinal stenosis.
- Herniated Discs: Herniated discs commonly cause lumbar spinal stenosis because they can compress the spinal cord as it passes through the narrow canal formed by the vertebrae. In most cases, this type of herniation occurs from excessive pressure from sitting or standing for long periods without moving around enough to allow proper blood flow to your lower back area and legs.
- Spinal Injuries: Spinal injuries can affect multiple levels of the spine and cause spinal canal narrowing. The most common injury that causes stenosis is a fracture of one or more vertebrae in the back. Other possible injuries include dislocation, subluxation (partial separation), and ligament damage.
- Paget's Disease: A less common cause, Paget's disease of bone causes your bones to grow larger and weaker than normal. This abnormal growth can lead to spinal stenosis.
- Spinal Cysts or Tumors: Tumors and cysts are rare causes of lumbar spinal stenosis. If a tumor or cyst compresses the spinal canal, symptoms may include back pain, weakness, loss of sensation, or numbness in one leg.
- Spinal Ligament Thickening: Over time, the tough cords that help hold the bones of your spine together can become stiff and thickened, which can bulge into the spinal canal.
- Bone Overgrowth The vertebrae comprise bones, joints, ligaments, and cartilage. The vertebral bodies are the largest bones in the spine, and they house the spinal cord. The vertebral bodies can become overgrown, which causes them to press on the spinal cord. In most cases, this is caused by an abnormality of the bone growth plate. This type of stenosis is typically seen in older patients and often in people with osteoporosis or other conditions that cause bone loss.
- Congenital Lumbar Spinal Stenosis: This condition is where a person is born with a small spinal canal. It is a congenital abnormality that can be passed down in families. An abnormally shaped spine, called scoliosis, can also cause spinal canal narrowing. Thus anyone with scoliosis is at risk of developing spinal stenosis.
Risk Factors of Spinal Stenosis
Degenerative changes of the spine are seen in up to 95% of people by the age of 50. With Lumbar Spinal Stenosis, individuals over 50 are at the highest risk. Other risk factors include a history of trauma to the spine, being born with a narrow spinal canal, and conditions like rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis. Understanding these causes and risk factors can help in early detection and treatment of Lumbar Spinal Stenosis.
Things to avoid with spinal stenosis
When considering what should you not do with spinal stenosis, individuals need to be cautious with certain activities and habits. One of the key things to avoid, especially for those dealing with cervical spinal stenosis, is heavy lifting, as it can strain the back and neck, potentially exacerbating the symptoms of spinal stenosis. It's also advisable to steer clear of prolonged activities that require standing or sitting for extended periods, as these can increase discomfort and pain.
High-impact exercises, such as running or jumping, can intensify the pain and should be replaced with low-impact activities like swimming or cycling. This is among the crucial things to avoid with cervical spinal stenosis. Maintaining good posture is essential as slouching or other forms of poor posture can exert additional pressure on the spine, worsening the symptoms.
Smoking is another risk factor as it can reduce blood flow to the spine and contribute to disc degeneration. Being overweight or obese can put extra stress on the spine, so maintaining a healthy weight can help alleviate symptoms. Lastly, it's essential not to ignore pain. Trying to push through pain can cause further injury. Listening to your body and resting when needed is a vital part of managing this condition.
Signs and symptoms of spinal stenosis
Symptoms of lumbar spinal stenosis largely depend on the severity and the level of spinal stenosis progression.
Symptoms of spinal stenosis lumbar include:
- Lower Back Pain
- Neurological Symptoms include numbness, weakness, or tingling in the legs.
- Sciatica: a sharp pain that radiates from the lower back down one or both legs.
- Difficulty walking or standing for long periods
- Loss of bladder or bowel control
- Severe pain that limits daily activities
It's important to note that symptoms can vary greatly from person to person, both in type and severity. Also, some people with Lumbar Spinal Stenosis may have no symptoms at all. If you're experiencing any of these symptoms, seeking medical attention promptly is crucial. Early diagnosis and treatment can help manage symptoms and improve quality of life.
How to diagnose lumbar spinal stenosis
At Pain and Spine Specialists, we follow a comprehensive approach to diagnosing Lumbar Spinal Stenosis. Our process involves several steps to ensure an accurate diagnosis and the most effective treatment plan. Here are some of the tests and procedures that our doctors for spinal stenosis use:
Review of Medical History
Our specialists will start with a thorough review of your medical history. This includes a discussion about your symptoms, their duration, and any previous treatments or surgeries. We also consider lifestyle factors such as physical activity and occupation that might contribute to your condition.
The healthcare provider will conduct a thorough physical examination. This may include assessing the patient's gait, as difficulty walking or gait changes can indicate lumbar spinal stenosis. The provider may also look for signs of nerve damage by checking reflexes, muscle strength, and sensory perception.
We may request advanced imaging to get a clear picture of what's going on inside your spine. Some of these techniques include:
- X-Rays: X-rays are the most common way to diagnose lumbar spinal stenosis. Our doctor takes X-rays of your back and spine, looking for signs of narrowing or degeneration in the spinal canal, and X-rays can show whether there are bone spurs or arthritis in the spine.
- MRI: Another test that can help diagnose lumbar spinal stenosis is a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan. An MRI uses radio waves and magnets to create detailed images of your body's soft tissues, ligaments, tendons, and muscles without using harmful radiation like X-rays. An MRI can show if there are any bulging discs or herniated discs that may be contributing to compression on nerves, which causes pain down the leg when you walk or stand up from sitting for too long.
- CT Scan: The CT Scan, a combination of X-rays and computer technology, can show detailed images of your bones, discs, and other tissues. Our lumbar spinal stenosis doctors in Maryland use CT scans to see if there is any narrowing of the spinal canal or any bone spurs that might be pressing on nerves.
In certain cases, we may need to conduct nerve tests, such as electromyography (EMG), to evaluate the electrical activity produced by our nerves and muscles. This can help determine whether you have nerve damage from spinal stenosis.
How to diagnose stenosis With Nerve Blocks
Nerve blocks are a valuable tool in diagnosing conditions like degenerative spinal stenosis. They help identify the specific source of pain by temporarily blocking the transmission of pain signals from specific spinal nerves or joints.
- Facet Joint Injections: Facet joints are small joints at each spine segment that provide stability and help guide motion. If Lumbar Spinal Stenosis is causing inflammation or arthritis in these joints, it can lead to back pain. By injecting a local anesthetic into the facet joints, we can determine if they are the source of the pain. If the pain subsides after the injection, it confirms that the discomfort originates from the facet joints.
- Epidural Steroid Injections: These injections are used to reduce inflammation around the nerves in the lumbar spine. If the pain significantly reduces or disappears after this injection, it suggests that the pain is likely due to nerve inflammation or compression in the spinal canal - common symptoms of Lumbar Spinal Stenosis.
- Sacroiliac (SI) Injections: The sacroiliac joints are located at the bottom of the spine and connect the sacrum to the hip bones. Issues with these joints can mimic the symptoms of Lumbar Spinal Stenosis. An SI injection can help rule out sacroiliac joint dysfunction as the source of pain, thus aiding in diagnosing Lumbar Spinal Stenosis.
- Medial Branch Blocks: Medial branch nerves are small nerves that feed out from the facet joints in the spine and carry pain signals from the facet joints to the brain. Blocking these nerves can help determine if the pain comes from the facet joints or the nerves themselves. If pain relief is achieved, it suggests that the medial branch nerves or the facet joints they supply are the cause of the pain.
Treatment for lumbar spinal stenosis
At Pain and Spine Specialists, we offer a comprehensive range of treatments for Lumbar Spinal Stenosis. Our approach combines cutting-edge technologies with conventional, interventional, and alternative therapies, allowing patients to access effective treatment for spinal stenosis without surgery.
As mentioned previously, our injection therapies can provide diagnostic information, but they also can provide therapeutic relief. These injection options include:
- Facet Joint Injections: These injections can help identify the source of pain and provide relief by reducing inflammation in the facet joints.
- Medial Branch Blocks: By targeting the nerves that supply the facet joints, these blocks can determine if these nerves are causing your pain and provide temporary relief.
- Epidural Steroid Injections: These injections can reduce inflammation and relieve pain in the lumbar spine.
- Sacroiliac Joint Injections: If we suspect your pain is coming from the sacroiliac joints, these injections can diagnose and treat the pain.
- Lumbar Sympathetic Block: This procedure can relieve lower back pain by blocking the sympathetic nerves.
Advanced Interventional procedure for spinal stenosis
For more severe cases, we offer advanced interventional treatment for stenosis of the spine. These procedures offer patients minimally invasive spinal stenosis treatment without surgery.
- The MILD Procedure for Spinal Stenosis: MILD treatment for stenosis removes parts of the bone or ligaments in your back to relieve pressure on spinal nerves.
- The Intracept Procedure: A minimally invasive procedure that targets the basivertebral nerve for the relief of chronic low back pain.
- Radiofrequency Ablation: This treatment uses heat produced by radio waves to target specific nerves and temporarily turn off their ability to send pain signals.
- Vertiflex: A minimally invasive procedure that inserts a small spacer to keep the spinal canal open and relieve pressure on the nerves.
In addition to our state-of-the-art procedures, we also offer non surgical treatment for spinal stenosis:
- Medication Management Programs: We can recommend a variety of medications to control pain and inflammation, improve sleep, and enhance physical therapy participation.
- Referrals to Physical Therapy
Spinal Stenosis Natural Treatment / Alternative Treatment
There are several natural or alternative treatments for spinal stenosis that can be considered as part of a holistic treatment plan. When appropriate, we are able to refer patients to our partners at Shakthi Health and Wellness Center. Here are a few treatments to consider:
- Acupuncture: This ancient Chinese therapy uses thin needles to stimulate specific points on the body, which can help reduce the pain and inflammation associated with lumbar spinal stenosis.
- Bio-Mat Therapy: A BioMat uses a combination of far infrared rays, negative ion effects, and the conductive properties of amethyst channels to deliver soothing, deep-penetrating heat. This can promote healing and reduce discomfort.
- Infrared Sauna: Infrared saunas use light to create heat, helping to relax muscles, increase circulation, and reduce pain. For lumbar spinal stenosis patients, regular sessions can help alleviate symptoms.
Treatments may vary depending on the severity of the condition. Our back pain specialists may recommend over-the-counter pain medications and physical therapy for mild cases of lumbar spinal stenosis. If any of these conservative treatments do not relieve your symptoms, another popular treatment is steroid injections or spinal fusions to help you relieve the pain and reduce inflammation through a series of injections near the spine.
For moderate to severe cases of lumbar spinal stenosis, our spinal stenosis experts may recommend interventional procedures or spinal stenosis surgery. The most common type of surgery for this condition is a laminectomy, also called decompressive surgery. This procedure involves removing portions of the bone, bony growths on disks that are pressing on nerves (bone spurs), and other tissues that may be crowding the spinal canal to take pressure off the spinal cord and nerves.
Lumbar Spinal Stenosis Treatment in Maryland, Pennsylvania, and Virginia
We understand that dealing with Lumbar Spinal Stenosis can be challenging and often overwhelming. Our mission is to provide comprehensive, individualized care to help you manage your pain and improve your quality of life.
We believe that effective treatment starts with a thorough understanding of your condition. That's why our first step is always a detailed evaluation to diagnose your specific condition accurately. We take into consideration your medical history, symptoms, lifestyle, and personal preferences when developing your treatment plan.
We will continually review and adjust your treatment plan based on your progress and feedback. Our goal is to alleviate your symptoms and address the underlying cause of your pain to prevent future occurrences.
How to Get Started with Us
Getting started with us is simple. You can call our offices or fill out the contact form below to schedule an appointment.
At Pain and Spine Specialists, we're committed to providing you with the highest level of care. Living with Lumbar Spinal Stenosis can be difficult, but you don't have to do it alone. Contact us today and let us assist you on your journey towards a pain-free life.
At Pain and Spine Specialists, we're a team of board-certified doctors specializing in minimally invasive treatments for Lumbar Spinal Stenosis. Our vast experience and success in alleviating chronic pain offer reassurance and hope to our patients.
Patients diagnosed with Lumbar Spinal Stenosis may be good candidates for the following treatments.
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