English 5 MIN READ 76 VIEWS June 12, 2024

Understanding Lumbar Canal Stenosis

The narrowing of one or more spinal canal spaces in the lumbar region (lower back) is known as lumbar canal stenosis. The tunnel that passes through each vertebra in your spine is called the spinal canal. It has your spinal cord in it. Your spinal cord and the nerves that radiate from it may become constricted due to less room in the spinal canal (nerve roots).

Your spinal cord or nerves may get inflamed, crushed, or pinched due to a tighter space. This medical condition can also result in back pain and other nerve problems, such as sciatica. A spinal canal narrowing can result from several illnesses and traumas. This blog gives a detailed understanding about lumbar canal stenosis, its treatment and prevention options. 

Parts of Spine

Your spine’s two most frequently affected areas are:

Lower Back (Lumbar Spinal Stenosis)

The five vertebrae that make up your lumbar spine are located in your lower back. The largest vertebrae in your spine are the lumbar vertebrae, typically known as L1 to L5.

Cervical Spinal Stenosis, or Neck

The cervical spine is made up of seven vertebrae. C1 to C7 are the labels on these vertebrae.

Spinal stenosis can also occur in the thoracic spine, and your middle back, but it is uncommon.

What Causes Spinal Canal Stenosis?

The causes behind the development of lumbar spinal canal stenosis can be various. A narrowing of the spinal canal can result from a variety of alterations or injuries to your spine. The two primary categories of causes are congenital and acquired. Here are some of its common causes:

Bone Narrowing

Your spinal canal becomes narrowed and nerves in your spine are pinched by bone spurs that protrude from your vertebrae. An excess of bone in your spine can also result from Paget’s disease of the bones.

Herniated or Bulging Discs

A flat, spherical cushioning pad called a vertebral disc sits between each vertebra and serves as a shock absorber. The discs may flatten and dry out as you get older. The gel-like centre of the discs may rupture due to cracks in their outer edge. The nerves next to the protruding disc are then compressed by it. 

Spinal Dysraphism

When abnormalities in the development of the spine, spinal cord, or nerve roots occur during foetal life. Examples of neural tube abnormalities include conditions such as spina bifida.

Congenital Kyphosis

When the back of your child bulges out more than it should, the condition is termed congenital kyphosis. In this case, the upper back appears more rounded than normal. This condition develops when the child has faced issues during the development of the spine at the foetal stage

What are Lumbar Spinal Stenosis Signs and Symptoms?

The lumbar spinal canal stenosis symptoms experienced by the people depend on the severity of the disease. These are some of the lumbar canal stenosis symptoms:

  • Discomfort in your lower back
  • Tingling or numbness in your foot, leg, or arm
  • Clumsiness or weakness in your foot, leg, or arm
  • Balance issues
  • Ache that travels down your leg from your buttocks. It might carry on into your foot.
  • A sensation of weight in your legs that could result in cramps in one or both of them
  • Discomfort that gets worse when you move, stand for extended periods or go downhill
  • Pain that goes away as you sit, lean forward or walk uphill.
  • Reduced hand function, such as trouble writing or buttoning clothes (more common with cervical stenosis)
  • Ache in the neck (more common with cervical stenosis)

Some people describe the levels of pain as tenderness or a dull aching or it can also be felt as scorching or electric-like. Depending on the complexity, the lumbar spinal stenosis signs and symptoms differ accordingly.

What Could be the Complications?

Incontinence refers to the lack of control over one’s bowel or bladder in cases of severe spinal stenosis. Additionally, it may result in nerve problems that cause sexual dysfunction, such as anorgasmia or erectile dysfunction. Severe spinal stenosis cases can result in partial or total paralysis of the legs, albeit this is quite uncommon.

What is the Treatment for Lumbar Canal Spinal Stenosis?

For spinal stenosis, numerous therapeutic methods are available. What is best for you is contingent upon:

  • The reason.
  • The problem’s location
  • The intensity of your illness.

Your doctor might first advise at-home care if your lumbar spinal stenosis signs and symptoms are moderate. If your symptoms get worse and these treatments don’t help, your doctor can suggest physical therapy, medication, injections, or even surgery. Let’s have a look at the following treatment options: 

Cold Treatment: Try using ice, such as an ice pack, frozen gel pack, or frozen bag of peas, if applying heat isn’t relieving your symptoms. For 20 minutes on and 20 minutes off, apply the ice. Ice can help relieve inflammation, soreness, and swelling.

Applying Heat: For lumbar spinal stenosis pain, heat can be a good option. Heat promotes blood flow, which eases stiffness of musles around joints and relaxes your muscles. When using heat, use caution as a high heat setting can burn you.

Exercise: This can help reduce discomfort but first speak with your healthcare professional. It also increases your flexibility and balance while fortifying the muscles that support your spine.

Physical Therapies: Therapists for these problems will collaborate with you to create a back-healthy workout regimen that will increase your strength and enhance your flexibility, balance, and spine stability. Your spine will become more resilient if you strengthen your core, which consists of your back and abdominal muscles. Your spinal canal can be opened up by walking in a way that physical therapists can teach you, which can help relieve nerve strain.

How to Prevent Developing Lumbar Canal Stenosis?

The following preventive measures can be taken to prevent the occurrence of lumbar spinal canal stenosis.

  • To maintain strong bones, make sure your diet contains adequate calcium
  • Keeping yourself at a healthy weight
  • Smoking clogs your arteries, which can exacerbate back Discomfort and hinder the healing of any wounds
  • Maintaining proper posture
  • Maintaining the strength of your muscles, particularly those in your back and core, is important for the health of your spine.

Conclusion 

The prognosis for spinal stenosis is generally favourable. With nonsurgical therapy, many patients with spinal stenosis can have active, fulfilling lives. However, it’s crucial to keep in mind that every individual with spinal stenosis is affected differently, thus not everyone responds to the same treatments.

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