What Is Lumbar Stenosis?

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Lumbar Stenosis is a condition where the spinal canal is narrowed or choked due to the growth of excess bone or tissue between the spinal bones. The condition typically develops as people age and conditions like arthritis become more common.

As patients age, their ligaments also become thicker and result in stenosis. Stenosis is also caused by the discs in the spinal column shifting and pinching the nerves in the area.


Lumbar stenosis is a serious condition that must be treated by a doctor if any of the below symptoms are noticed:

  • Pain or numbness in the feet, back, and buttocks. The pain may be slight or severe depending on the activity being performed. For most patients, the pain gets worse when standing up, walking, or performing certain movements.
  • General stiffness in the legs and thighs
  • Constant lower back pain that might hinder daily activities

These are general symptoms that can intensify as time progresses. Without treatment, the condition becomes severe and the pain is more defined. In severe cases, patients might also experience loss of bladder control and bowel movements.

Diagnosis and Treatment Options

The doctor will be able to identify symptoms of Lumbar Stenosis by asking a few simple questions and performing an examination of the back and feet. MRIs, X-rays, and CT scans can help doctors confirm the condition and recommend treatment based on the level of recovery needed.

If the condition is found to be moderate after the diagnosis, your doctor will most likely recommend a combination of medication and physical therapy. Anti-inflammatory medication is often prescribed to deal with the pain and help relax the back muscles. If the case is severe, surgery is required to treat the condition.


The most common procedure to treat lumbar stenosis is lumbar laminectomy. This surgery relieves the stress on the spinal nerves and muscles, thus relieving pain. A Laminectomy requires an incision made in the back to remove excess bone or thickened tissue in the spinal canal. Once the pain is gone, patients can resume their daily activities.

Other surgical options include a facetectomy, facet replacement, laminotomy, microendoscopic decompression, and Interspinous process distractors. The correct surgical choice can be determined through a consultation with your doctor. During the consultation, he will explain all the choices in detail before a final decision is made.

Complete Recovery

There are a variety of treatment options for lumbar stenosis and depending on the option you choose to undergo, it could potentially take several months to heal before daily activities can be performed without hindrance.

With physical therapy and medication, the exercises have to be performed on a daily basis for a long period of time to make sure that the recovered back strength is maintained. You should continue to use any medication prescribed to you for as long as your doctor recommends.

As far as surgical recovery is concerned, factors like overall health and previous conditions affect the time it takes to recover. Physiotherapy is used for a relatively short period to help patients get back on their feet. Surgery is a relatively permanent fix for this condition and physical exercises can further strengthen the back when you are ready to perform them.

Contact Our Office

Contact our office to learn more about lumbar stenosis and the preventative treatment options that you can use to help find relief. Dr. Kevin James, a board-certified orthopedic spine surgeon, will answer all of your questions and concerns in a safe and comfortable environment.