Spinal Stenosis is a condition caused by the narrowing of the spinal canal causing the nerves to be pinched – leading to persistent pain in the buttocks, limping, lack of feeling in the lower extremities and decreased ability to walk.
As the body dehydrates with age, bones become less dense and the discs of the spine loose mass. The discs compress, causing tilting, slippage and rotation of vertebral bodies. This results in compression of the spinal sac and nerve roots. As these narrowing results in a compression of the spinal nerve and nerve roots, this in turn causes a wide range of symptoms.
Congenital lumbar stenosis is relatively rare and presents at an early age, often between 30 and 40. Acquired Lumbar Stenosis is more common and develops when patients are in their 60’s or older.
- Dull to severe aching pain in the lower back or buttocks when walking or doing other activities
- Pain radiating into one or both thighs and legs
- Numbness, weakness or paraesthesia involving the lower extremities
- Symptoms relieved by bending forward, sitting or lying down
- Pain relievers tend to be ineffective
- Conservative measures can be tried first. These include pain killers and anti-inflammatory medication and physiotherapy.
- If conservative measures do not work injections – epidural or nerve root – may be offered to inject some local anaesthetic and steroids around the inflamed nerve.
- If these measures do not work surgery may be considered to take the pressure off the nerve and stabilise the spine if needed. This operation is called a lumbar decompression and stabilisation.