Spinal stenosis decompression surgery is used to treat compressed nerves in the lumbar spine a condition known as spinal canal narrowing or spinal canal stenosis. It is usually recommended when non-surgical treatments have failed to provide relief. Surgery is advised when medication and physiotherapy have failed and significant and persistent leg pain is experienced when standing or walking.
What causes spinal stenosis?
The lumbar spine commonly consists of 6 vertebrae located between the thorax and the pelvis. The narrowing of the spinal canal and obstruction of the nerves located within this canal is called lumbar spinal stenosis. Most commonly lower parts of the lumbar spine are affected. The nerves located in this part of the spine are responsible for the innervation of the legs. This explains the typical symptoms and problems affecting the quality of life.
The narrowing of the spinal canal is mostly a gradual process. Each element of the spine and their joints have a particular role and ageing processes can impact it. In addition, lifestyle and hard physical labour can lead to gradual degenerative changes in the spine. These changes can lead to a gradual decrease in the height of the intervertebral discs, reduction in spine canal, enlargement of the intervertebral joints. Each separate or combination of these factors can result in spinal stenosis.
The narrowing of the spinal canal and lumbar spine stenosis is one of the most common problems affecting the quality of life in people over 50.
At what age does the lumbar stenosis occur?
As mentioned normal wear-and-tear effects of ageing can lead to narrowing of the spinal canal. Degenerative changes in the spine are seen in up to 95% of people by the age of 50. Spinal stenosis most often occurs in adults over 60 years old. But people under the age of 60 can have spinal stenosis due to lifestyle and work style and conditions.
How is spinal canal stenosis diagnosed?
If you visit GP first as the first step would be a referral to x-ray or CT scan or referral to the specialist. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is the standard for radiological examination, without which a complete diagnosis and appropriate treatment are unimaginable. Patients that are going abroad without MRI scan will be referred by a specialist doctor after the initial consultation. In some occasions, a specialist suggests performing MRI prior consultation in order to save time.
What are the symptoms of lumbar stenosis?
A common sign of this lower back problems is numbness or tingling in a foot or leg as well as cramps in the muscles of the lower leg. Leg pain and numbness can occur after walking and even a person is resting or sleeping. Usually, pain or cramping will occur when you stand for long periods of time or when you walk. Stenosis symptoms will usually eases when you bend forward or sit down. All or some of these symptoms could be a sign of stenosis, but back pain can often be associated with other changes that can impact everyday activities that can impact everyday life.
What are the treatment options for spinal stenosis?
As first step doctors usually suggest medication, physiotherapy. If the stenosis is causing a significant decrease in quality of life, ability to perform everyday activities and loss of working capacity. In some situations, lifestyle changes are advised – such as smoking cessation and weight loss
Doctor will suggest spinal decompression surgery is performed when non surgical treatment have faild. Surgery is performed while the patient is under general anaesthesia so there is no pain during the procedure. Operation is a patient-friendly, minimally invasive that can take anywhere from a one and a half hours to several hours depending on the condition and specific surgery performed. During the surgery small incision, usually no longer than 3 centimetres, along the vertical axis of the spine over the affected part of the spine. Usually affected part is L4-L5 and L5-S1 but other locations and more than one location are also possible.