Lower back pain can be very disabling. Add numbness or weakness of the legs or intense pain radiating down the legs from your back, and you’re in a world of hurt. Our caring staff at Apollo Pain Management in Sun City Center, Florida, work with your referring provider to get to the root cause of your pain. It may be a condition called lumbar spinal stenosis.
Your spinal cord controls your ability to move — to walk, run, twist, bend, and more — via a long column of nerves from your neck to your pelvis. The nerves progress through a tunnel, the spinal canal. If you have spinal stenosis, your spinal canal has become abnormally narrow (stenosis means “narrow” in Greek), putting pressure on the nerves emanating from your spinal cord to your muscles. That pressure results in your painful symptoms.
The lumbar region is your lower back, where five vertebrae connect the upper part of your spine to your pelvic area. Stenosis can occur anywhere along your spinal cord, but it occurs most frequently in the lumbar area.
You may ask, “Why does the spinal cord narrow?” The most frequent cause is osteoarthritis: degeneration due to aging. You’re more prone to this lumbar spinal stenosis if you’re over 60.
Your spinal discs, the soft, gel-type material between each vertebra in your spine, may dry out. The disc loses height, lessening the space between your vertebrae and putting pressure on the spinal nerve. The problem could be in your facet joints, also located between your vertebrae. These small joints may be degenerating and placing undue pressure on the nerve.
Bone disease, an accident that causes trauma to the spinal cord; a tumor; or rheumatoid arthritis are other common causes of lumbar spinal stenosis.
Lumbar spinal stenosis can cause intense pain in your back and/or your legs. Most of the time, it can be treated nonsurgically. Following are some standard treatments for lumbar spinal stenosis.
You’re likely already taking an over-the-counter pain reliever. Your Apollo Pain Management physician can prescribe a stronger pain relief medication. However, medication masks the symptoms, and some individuals may not be able to take pain medication.
Physical therapy is an important component of effective treatment of lumbar spinal stenosis. Your back, core, and leg muscles need strengthening to help support you and lessen your pain. Your therapist shows you how to do the exercises at your appointments, and you need to do the exercises at home every day. These exercises should become a normal part of your health routine to keep your muscles from seizing up. You don’t want a repeat attack.
Massage is an element of physical therapy. Many patients find regular deep massage appointments helpful.
If you’re in severe pain, your Apollo Pain Management staff may recommend an epidural steroid injection. Their advanced expertise allows them to place the steroid solution directly into the epidural space where the nerve is compressed. This blunts inflammation of certain nerve roots causing the pain. The good news is that 70 to 90% of patients who receive injections report significant pain relief. The duration of the relief is variable, however. It could be short-term, in which case it’s not considered a success; on the other hand, pain relief might last up to a year.
Our practice offers minimally invasive lumbar decompression (MILD) to relieve intractable cases of lumbar spinal stenosis. It’s appropriate if the condition is severe and you find standing or walking difficult. The MILD procedure trims excess ligament and bone in the lumbar area. It’s such a tiny incision that no stitches are involved, and general anesthesia isn’t needed. The reported success rate is 80%, and patients note significant improvement.
Call Apollo Pain Management today if you have undiagnosed back or leg pain. We will coordinate with your referring provider.