Is Surgery the Only Answer for Lumbar Spinal Stenosis?
If you’ve been experiencing relentless lower back pain with tingling or burning in your legs, you’ve probably done enough internet research to know there’s a good chance you may have lumbar spinal stenosis.
The condition is a narrowing of the spinal canal or of the small openings that are on the sides of the vertebrae, through which the nerves travel.
These nerves are responsible for carrying messages from our lower bodies to our brains, and when they are obstructed or impinged upon by this narrowing the message that they carry is pain.
Lumbar spinal stenosis can interfere with your quality of life. It is essential that you see an experienced and knowledgeable lumbar spine specialist for a comprehensive workout, diagnosis, and a plan of action.
Many people go out of their way to avoid taking this step, in large part because they fear the possibility of surgery, but the truth is that there are many options available for those who have lumbar spinal stenosis, as well as any of the other potential diagnoses that a physician might make. More importantly, if you do indeed have the condition, it is not going to get better without significant intervention – in fact it can get worse.
Lumbar spinal stenosis is not something that happens and remains exactly as it is. No matter what the cause, it is a degenerative condition that can expand throughout your back, and lead to complete debilitation.
Though surgery is often the answer, there are many non-surgical treatments that have proven to be extremely effective at easing discomfort.
Non-surgical approaches to lumbar spinal stenosis aim at providing you with a return to your original function and relieving your pain. They include:
- Physical therapy – This usually involves core strengthening exercises, stretching and massage
- Lumbar traction – This approach has proven effective for many patients. It is said to open up the spinal canal
- Anti-inflammatory medications – These reduce swelling around the nerves
- Steroid injections – These injections deliver medication directly into the space around the nerves, reducing swelling and pain and reducing numbness. Though these can be extremely effective, there are limits to how many a patient can have in one year.
- Ice or heat – These can help reduce pain, especially after physical therapy. Neither should be used if there is a lack of sensation in the back.
If nonsurgical approaches are not effective, surgery may eventually be suggested. Patients who have undergone spinal fusion or laminectomy are generally offered permanent relief from the pain of nerve compression.
If you have been suffering from back pain and trying to come up with a solution on your own, it is time to seek professional help. Contact our lumbar spine specialty practice to set up an appointment to come in, get a comprehensive workup and diagnosis, and put yourself on the road back to living your life without pain.