Lumbar spinal stenosis

Lumbar spinal stenosis

Spinal stenosis means the narrowing of one of the canals of the spine. This may be the central spinal canal that houses the spinal cord or the lateral canals that allow the spinal nerves to exist from the spinal cord. Spinal stenosis can be due being born with small canals – congenital or the much more common cause which is degeneration (you get it through life).

The major causes of spinal stenosis include:

  • Tumours. Abnormal growths within or around the spinal cord and the vertebrae. These aren’t always malignancies however do reduce the available space.
  • Spinal injuries. Traumatic injuries may cause fracture or dislocation to the vertebrae.
  • Herniated discs. Intervertebral discs are the cartilage shock absorbers of the spine. The outer layers can rupture and allow fluid from within the disc to escape and compress the spinal cord and nerves.
  • Bone overgrowth. When the bones of the spine become worn and degenerative spurs can grow out into the spinal canals and cause compression the nerves. We call these boney overgrowths osteophytes.
  • Thickened ligaments. Thicken ligaments such as the ligamentum flavum occur during the normal ageing process. This can cause spinal stenosis and compression.

Symptoms of lumbar spine stenosis

Some individuals will never experience a symptom but the vast majority will eventually notice radiating pain, weakness and numbness secondary to compression of the spinal cord or nerves. Cramping can occur in the lower back and legs depending on where on the spine the problem occurs. Bowel and bladder function may become compromised and this must be diagnosed early to prevent long-term complication. Low back pain is common.

Treatment of lumbar spine stenosis

At Sydney Spine & Sports Centre (S3C) our role and treatment will depend on the severity and location of the lumbar spine stenosis. In some causes non-surgical treatments that our chiropractors and physiotherapists deliver will be enough to reduce pain and improve function. However in certain cases one of our chiropractors and physiotherapists will have to send you for prompt specialist care when advanced symptoms are apparent. At Sydney Spine & Sports Centre (S3C) you are our priority, and getting you better is our ultimate goal. If we cant get you better will promptly refer you to a medical specialist who can.

Causes of low back pain

The following conditions are common causes of low back pain.