Lumbar spinal stenosis is a narrowing of the necessary spaces that act as tunnels for the nervous tissue of the spine and its blood supply. It’s more common after age 50 but we see it in younger patients as well. Your nervous system is designed to stand up to a good amount of compression but for those with a history of injury to the structures of the back, particularly the lumbar disc, this narrowing can become a problem.
The typical lumbar spinal stenosis patient has difficulty with walking, standing and occasionally reaching overhead. Because of this there is a decline in overall fitness, vigor and unfortunately, but not uncommonly, self worth. Staying engaged in life becomes a challenge if a simple walk feels like a steep uphill climb.
Some very unfortunate terminology is associated with lumbar spinal stenosis particularly the description “spinal degeneration”. You need to know that “degeneration” can be a problem but it is often the normal boney remodeling of spine that is typical of aging. Also consider this: There are folks with stenotic spines on MRI who are symptom free in the areas that receive their nerve supply from the compressed nerve!
You are not doomed to a life of leg pain and weakness if you suffer from lumbar stenosis. A wheelchair is not in your future! There is a wealth of options to help you get over this obstacle. These include specific corrective exercises and manual techniques to help decompress nerve; Walter Brown PT has developed many of these. These are performed in coordination with techniques offered at Osteopathic Wellness Medicine of Western New York such as prolotherapy to help stabilize spinal ligaments or lumbar spine epidural injections that calm down the nerve.
The take home message: You can return to walking and the activities you enjoy. We can guide you through a progression of non-surgical options to get rid of numbness, pain and weakness from spinal stenosis and teach you how to exercise in a way to keep these problems from disrupting your life.