Treatment for the symptoms of lumbar spinal stenosis will vary depending on the degree of stenosis, number of levels involved, and any complicating factors. Things like spondylolisthesis, spondylosis, and degenerative disc disease must also be considered when developing a treatment plan.
The Most Conservative Treatments
The most conservative back pain treatment plan may begin with physical therapy exercises and general conditioning exercises. If your stenosis is mild and your symptoms are more annoying than limiting, simple sciatica stretches or other sciatica therapy may be effective. Weight loss, strengthening your abdominal muscles, and correcting your posture may be all it takes to relieve your symptoms.
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"Another conservative treatment option..."
Another conservative treatment option is decompression using lumbar traction. Decompression therapy gently stretches the spine; this can reduce a bulging disc, or help to rehabilitate the disc in degenerative disc disease. Many pain management centers have decompression tables that use computers to control the amount of traction.
Also available are back pain inversion tables, such as the Teeter Inversion Table, which can apply controlled traction to the lumbar spine. Inversion tables smoothly rotate you slightly upside down, and gravity gently stretches your spine, while you lie there and relax. There are many other back pain machines on the market that work by various methods to stimulate and manipulate the lumbar spine. In general most of these are safe, but their effectiveness depends on your problem matching their treatment.
"slightly more invasive treatment"
A slightly more invasive treatment is epidural steroid injections. Steroids placed in the spinal canal can reduce the inflammation and swelling of tissues, making more room for the nerves. In cases of mild stenosis this may be enough to relieve your symptoms of sciatica.
If less invasive measures fail to provide relief, spinal stenosis surgery may be your only option. Exactly what needs to be done must be discussed with your surgeon. If your stenosis is uncomplicated, a laminectomy decompression may be all that is required. A laminectomy decompression simply removes the bone that is pressing on the nerves.
"the best fusion for you"
If you have a spondylolisthesis or excessive motion your surgeon may recommend a fusion in conjunction with the laminectomy decompression. There are many types of fusion, and the best fusion for you will depend on your surgeon's preferences and experience.
Managing your lumbar spinal stenosis so that you can continue to live a full and active life depends on you educating yourself and learning the causes, the symptoms, and the treatment options. Whether you decide to have surgery, or just learn some stretches you are making informed decisions and participating in your care. Only you can decide what is best for you.
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