Humans are no strangers to back problems. Globally, nearly 620 million people are affected by lower back pain, and that number is expected to increase to 843 million by 2050.
If you’re a reluctant member of this large group, we're sure that relief is your top priority, and that relief can only come on the heels of a proper diagnosis.
As spine specialists, we understand the many ways in which lower back pain can become a chronic problem, and we’re focusing on one in particular in this month’s blog post — lumbar spinal stenosis. Let’s take a look.
The word stenosis comes from the Greek work for “narrow,” which is a good description of what’s happening in your spine. With lumbar spinal stenosis (LSS), degenerative changes in your spine cause your spinal canal to narrow, which ends up crowding sensitive nerve roots.
These degenerative changes include:
When one or more of these changes occur, they can compress one of your five pairs of lumbar nerve roots or five pairs of sacral nerve roots in your lower back.
As we mentioned, your lower back is vulnerable to a host of painful conditions, and LSS is one of the more common ones. It affects about 11% of older adults in the United States.
The back pain from LSS is often worse when you’re on your feet and standing up straight. It feels better if you lean forward because you relieve the pressure on the nerve. The pain can worsen when you’re walking downhill rather than uphill.
This pain may stay local in your lower back, but more often than not, you experience pain that radiates down into your buttocks and legs. Since LSS involves sensory nerves, pain isn’t the only thing you might feel — numbness and tingling in your buttocks and legs are also common symptoms.
Aside from pain, numbness, and tingling, you might experience weakness in your lower leg and/or foot.
The best way to determine whether spinal stenosis is responsible for your lower back pain is to see us for an evaluation. If LSS is present, we can turn to turn to many treatment options, including injections, to bring you relief, which is our top mission.
Once we review your symptoms, we can work toward longer term solutions, such as physical therapy, acupuncture, and lifestyle changes.
For a more personalized assessment and treatment plan for your lower back pain, we invite you to schedule an appointment at one of our locations in Marlton, Hamilton Township, and East Brunswick, New Jersey.