Lumbar Spinal Stenosis Overview & Treatment

Spinal stenosis occurs when the spinal canal narrows and puts pressure on the spinal cord. When this compression presents in the lower back region, it’s known as lumbar spinal stenosis (LSS). If you’ve tried a number of LSS treatments but haven’t found relief from its symptoms, board certified spine surgeon Dr. LaRocca and his team at New Jersey Neck & Back Institute, P.C. can help. Learn more about this condition and how NJNBI offers surgical treatments that get results.

Lumbar Spinal Stenosis Causes

Most cases of lumbar spinal stenosis are caused by arthritis. Just like our joints gradually weaken as we get older, so do the discs between our vertebrae. That’s why LSS most commonly affects adults over the age of 40. As the discs weaken, the space between the vertebrae can collapse, causing the spine to settle.

As a result, the body compensates by shifting our weight to the facet joints instead. Facet joints are what make the spine flexible, and they’re also the place where nerves exit the spinal cord. When put under such pressure, these nerves and the joints are negatively affected and the following symptoms may occur:

  • Back pain
  • Burning pain in the legs or buttocks
  • Numbness and/or tingling in the legs or buttocks
  • Reduced pain when sitting or leaning forward
  • Weakness in the legs
  • Foot feels like its slapping the ground while walking
  • Bowel or bladder dysfunction
  • Loss of coordination

It’s also important to note that while this disorder is most common in older adults, it may also appear as a congenital defect that affects some infants from birth. Tumors that press on the nerves or a traumatic injury that moves bones out of alignment and causes compression can also lead to spinal stenosis.

Diagnosing Lumbar Spinal Stenosis

If you’ve been referred to a surgeon with a diagnosis of LSS, Dr. LaRocca will start by collecting your medical history and discussing your symptoms. He’ll also conduct a physical exam to help determine the source of your symptoms and assess any movement limitations. Further diagnostic testing may be required to see the severity and location of the stenosis, such as X-rays, CT scans or a myelogram. A myelogram is a procedure in which dye is injected into the spine to show areas where the nerves are compressed.

It’s possible for more than one area of spinal stenosis to present in several vertebrae. However, only certain areas may be causing your pain and nerve dysfunction. After a thorough examination, Dr. LaRocca will have a better idea of which areas to treat.

Treating Lumbar Spinal Stenosis

When a patient is diagnosed with LSS, doctors recommend non-surgical treatment options first. This may involve medication, physical therapy, exercise and/or injections. Unfortunately, these methods can fail to provide the relief you need. In that case, your doctor may recommend surgery next.

Surgery can offer long-term relief and restore movement. The most common procedure to treat LSS is called a laminectomy. During a laminectomy, the affected spinal segments pressing on the nerves will be removed through an incision in the back. If necessary, a spinal fusion will also be performed. This is when vertebrae are fused together to promote stability and eliminate pressure on the nerves.

Along with expert surgical procedures, each patient will receive personalized, compassionate care and the education on spine health they need to make informed decisions and feel confident in their treatment plan. Overall, outcomes for surgical treatment are very good to excellent.

Schedule an Appointment

Expert care for lumbar spinal stenosis is just a phone call away. If your doctor recommends you see a surgeon for weakness and numbness in your arms and legs, pain in your exterminates, neurological problems or other spine conditions, schedule an appointment with Dr. LaRocca at New Jersey Neck & Back Institute, P.C. by dialing 609-896-0020 or contacting us online today.