Lower back pain along with weakness, pain, or other issues in your legs or with walking could be a sign of lumbar stenosis. Lumbar stenosis is a common cause of lower back pain. It happens when certain spaces inside your spine (either the spinal canal or nerve passageways, called foramen) become narrow.
If the foramen becomes narrow, it's called lumbar foraminal stenosis. You may get both types of lumbar stenosis. Other than lower back pain, lumbar stenosis can cause pain, burning, or tingling in your legs or buttocks, and issues with your bladder and bowels. In severe cases, you may have issues moving your legs.
If you have lumbar stenosis, you may have been born with it (congenital). But most cases of it show up in patients over age 50. When that's the case, it's a result of aging and wear and tear on your spine. Other common causes include osteoarthritis, degenerative disc disease, or bone spurs.
Lumbar Stenosis Treatment at UVA Health
We may check your spine for lumbar stenosis using X-rays, CT scanning, or an MRI. In some cases, we'll use myelography, a special test that can show problems inside your spine.
There are several nonsurgical treatments that can help relieve your lumbar stenosis symptoms.
Surgery for Lumbar Stenosis
You may need surgery if other treatments haven't worked. The goal of surgery is to lessen pressure on your spinal cord and nerve roots. To do that, we'll use surgery to remove or trim away whatever is causing compression of your spine. Your care team will go over your options to decide on best treatment plan for you.
- Decompressive laminectomy is a common surgery for lumbar stenosis. It involves removing the lamina, a part of your vertebrae (the individual bones in your spine). That creates more space inside your spine. If your surgeon only removes part of the lamina, the procedure is known as a decompressive laminotomy.
- A discectomy removes part of, or an entire disc (softer tissue between the bones of your spine). For instance, a disc may be herniated (has a part that bulges out). A herniated disc can put pressure on the spine or nerves.
- Your surgeon may stabilize your spine with instrumentation and fusion. Instrumentation (screws and plates put into your spine) and fusion (bone grafts) join two or more vertebrae together to add stability. This may be combined with another procedure.