If you have chronic lower back pain, it’s a good chance it’s due to lumbar spinal stenosis. This condition where the spinal canal narrows and the spinal cord is compressed makes it difficult just to walk around the block or grocery store.
A surgical discectomy or laminectomy to reduce the compression of stenosis leads to a long recovery and it may not alleviate the pain.
Dr. Trujillo and our team at Summit Healthcare Pain Clinic have another option that could reduce your pain. It’s called MILD, minimally invasive lumbar decompression. We’ll get into this procedure in both of this month’s blogs.
The problem — nerve compression
Lumbar spinal stenosis (LSS) is a common condition, with over two million Americans diagnosed and having some treatment performed to address it each year. LSS is a narrowing of the lower spinal canal that creates compression of the spinal cord or other nerve roots exiting the spinal canal.
When we’re young, our spinal canal has plenty of room for our spinal cord, the bundle of nerve tissues that run from your brain to your lower body, and ligaments, bones, and our spinal discs to all co-exist in harmony. The nerves have ample room down the canal and at the exit points, the foramen.
As we age, however, natural wear and tear take a toll. A combination of factors works together to narrow the spinal canal. Ligament tissue thickens, bone spurs form on the lamina (the back of the vertebrae), spinal discs bulge or fully herniate (push through their outer covering). All of these factors can push on the spinal cord and nerve roots. When this happens in the lower back, the five vertebrae that make up the lumbar spine, it’s known as lumbar spinal stenosis.
The symptoms of compression
This type of compression will lead to chronic pain in most cases. Symptoms will typically be pain, numbness, or tingling sensations in the lower back, legs, or buttocks. These symptoms will be worse when the person is standing or walking. Any amount of walking can become almost impossible at a certain point. The pain is relieved when the person sits or bends forward, as this opens space in the spine and eases the pressure on the spinal cord.
Dr. Trujillo diagnoses LSS patients through a review of the patient’s medical history, coupled with various tests:
- Check limitations in mobility, standing duration, walking distance ability
- MRI, CTs scan, or X-rays — Imaging tests that show bone, ligament, and discs
- Myelogram — Spinal canal x-ray
Using this information, Dr. Trujillo will move to various treatment options to relieve your pain. These will start with conservative treatments, such as physical therapy, medication, possible steroid injections, maybe spinal cord stimulation.
If these are not relieving your pain, we need to look at decompression procedures, such as the new MILD treatment. We’ll talk about that in April’s second blog. Stay tuned!
If you have chronic pain of any sort, please call us at Summit Healthcare Pain Clinic, (855) 768-4968. Dr. Trujillo can help.