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What are the Different Types of Lumbar Spinal Stenosis Treatment?

By Erin J. Hill
Updated May 17, 2024
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Lumbar spinal stenosis treatment usually includes medication, either orally or through injections, and sometimes surgery. In most cases, various medicinal options are attempted first and surgery is considered if those treatments fail. The effectiveness of both forms of treatment usually depends on the severity of the condition and how long a patient has been suffering from symptoms.

Lumbar spinal stenosis is a condition in which the lower spine is narrowed through injury, arthritis, infection, and sometimes due to a tumor. This narrowing causes compression on the nerves of the lower back, leading to pain, weakness, numbness, and stiffness. Sometimes these symptoms can also affect the upper legs and hips. Severity will depend on how wide an area is impacted.

There are a wide range of medicinal lumbar spinal stenosis treatment options available, so patients may be given one or more medications to alleviate symptoms. Separate medications may be used to reduce inflammation and to alleviate pain. Oral prescription medications are common, although some patients are given cortisone injections.

Those who have severe pain, extreme weakness, or loss of bowel and bladder function may require more invasive lumbar spinal stenosis treatment. This generally involves surgery to remove the portions of spine which are compressing the nerve or nerves. Sometimes the area is small enough so missing portions will not cause an issue, but in other cases the spine may become unstable. When this occurs, portions of the spine may be fused together to stabilize them.

Most patients experience greatly reduced numbness and pain in the legs after surgery. The amount of relief in the lower back will depend on how severe the condition was before lumbar spinal stenosis treatment was begun. Sometimes the nerves become damaged enough that permanent issues can arise. This can be alleviated with the use of medication after surgery.

The majority of lumbar spinal stenosis cases are the result of long-term arthritis combined with the natural aging process. This can sometimes be prevented by effectively treating it as early as possible and reducing inflammation. In rare cases a tumor or infection may lead to spinal narrowing or they may grow against the spine and push against the nerves. Removal of tumors can be complicated, but is often necessary, especially if the mass is cancerous in nature.

WiseGEEK is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.

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