If your back condition progresses far enough and does not heal through conventional treatment, lumbar spine surgery may be recommended. Let’s take a look at two conditions that can possibly progress this far.
The main cause of lumbar spinal stenosis includes hypertrophy of the facet joints, spondylolisthesis, diffuse idiopathic skeletal hyperostosis (DISH), and degenerative disc disease. Lumbar spinal stenosis will more develop more often after the age of 50 and both genders are equally affected.
Some signs of spinal stenosis may include, leg pain, weakness and weakened reflexes. Most patients feel the majority of their pain while walking, while sitting down will help to alleviate this pain. When walking the patient will often be more comfortable if leaning forward, an example would be leaning on a shopping cart while walking through a store.
When considering the different types of spinal stenosis, cervical spinal stenosis diagnosis is done through the use of an MRI, as a CT scan will often prove useless. With lumbar spinal stenosis a MRI is still preferable but a CT scan can be useful if an MRI is not available.
Spinal Stenosis Treatment
- Weight loss will help to reduce the pressure applied on the lumbar region of your back
- Activity modification - a walker may be introduced to help the patient with posture
- Epidural steroid injects - used to help relieve leg pain
- If symptoms progress or do not get better - lumbar spine surgery could become an option
Spinal Stenosis Quick Facts
- Spinal stenosis will often develop and progress slowly over time
- With spinal stenosis the pain is not acute and will often come and go
- Symptoms of spinal stenosis are often brought on through walking or standing for long periods of time
- Resting, including sitting or lying down will often relieve spinal stenosis symptoms. Your spinal stenosis symptoms will often be relieved by flexing yourself forward
Lumbar Herniated Disc
One of the most common causes of lumbar back pain is a herniated disc. Intervertebral discs are found between your vertebrae in your spinal column and look like round flat structures. A tough outer material makes up the exterior of the disc which encompasses a soft gelatinous inner substance. These discs act as shock absorbers allowing for your back to flex and bend with stability. When the soft inner material bulges out though a tear in the exterior of the disc it has become herniated.
Men ranging between twenty and fifty years of age are most commonly affected by lumbar herniated discs and will occur most often when intense pressure has been applied to the disc by the vertebra above or below it. Improper lifting techniques, sudden twisting motions, or traumatic injury to the back may be some of the reasons that cause a herniated disc. Another possibility is natural aging. With age the outer disc layer begins to weaken.
Leg pain is most often associated with people suffering from herniated disc, and because of the location of this pain they are unaware that the problem lies in their back. Depending on the position of the herniated disc the symptoms may vary.
Herniated Disc Symptoms
- When no pressure is being applied on a nerve - Lumbar back pain, or no pain at all
- Pressure from herniated disc applied on a nerve - depending on where the nerve leads in the body there will be pain or numbness in this area
- Cervical herniated disc - Location of pain or numbness will be felt in the shoulders, arms or chest
- Lumbar herniated disc - Sciatica may occur causing leg pain or other related symptoms, such as weakness, numbness or tingling in one leg. This pain can be felt in the buttocks, down the back of the leg and even into the ankle and foot. If back pain is associated with this, it will usually not be as intense as the pain felt in the person’s extremities
Deep muscle pain and muscle spasms may also be associated with herniated disc, depending on severity.