Medical Minute: Lumbar Spinal Stenosis

BOSTON (CBS) – An increasing number of people are being diagnosed with lumbar spinal stenosis. This is narrowing of the spinal canal in the lower back.

[Audio|titles=Lumbar Spinal Stenosis|artists=Dr. Murray Feingold]

The narrowing, usually due to arthritis, causes compression of the nerves located in this area resulting in pain that may radiate down the leg.

Very frequently there is absence of pain when seated and relief of pain is by bending forward. In contrast, when bending backwards, the pain returns.

There may also be a feeling of weakness or fatigue involving the legs.

The pain frequently occurs with exercise and lessens with rest. Standing and walking are also associated with discomfort in contrast to swimming and riding an exercise bike.

X-ray examination usually confirms the diagnosis.

If the pain becomes increasingly worse and does not respond to medical therapy, surgery may be indicated. The surgery consists of removing some of the bone in the canal thus making it larger and relieving the nerve compression.

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