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Lumbar Spinal Stenosis

Spinal stenosis, a gradual narrowing of the spinal canal opening, is most often seen in individuals age 50 or older. While it may be seen in young patients, and it may be present in other areas of the spine, the most common location for spinal stenosis is the lumbar or lower region. Stenosis occurs as the passageways in the vertebrae which the nerves travel through narrow. This narrowing can cause pressure on the spinal cord or nerve roots branching off of the spinal cord.

Patients with lumbar spinal stenosis may experience symptoms such as chronic back pain, leg pain, or loss of control over body functions--depending on the specific area affected and the extent of pressure on the nerve roots. Symptoms of lumbar spinal stenosis such as leg weakness, pain, or numbness will often increase with certain activities such as walking.

Diagnosing Lumbar Spinal Stenosis
Diagnosing lumbar spinal stenosis requires ruling out any other conditions that can manifest the same symptoms. This requires an extensive medical history and a thorough physical examination. Tests to confirm or exclude lumbar spinal stenosis may include an X-ray, MRI, CT scan, myelogram, or a bone scan. Once a diagnosis of stenosis is confirmed, the treatment may require surgical intervention.

At The Bonati Institute, the surgery to treat stenosis is performed on an outpatient basis using advanced arthroscopic outpatient procedures. The recovery time is much shorter than traditional open-back surgery, since the small half-inch incision used causes minimal trauma to the surrounding tissues and muscles. In fact, many patients can resume their normal activities within a few days instead of months, which is the typical recovery period of old-fashioned "open" back surgery.

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