Minimally Invasive Treatment for Lumbar Spinal Stenosis

– The information has been reviewed by Clinical Director Of Minimally Invasive Spine Surgery Center Dr. Leung Hin Shuen, Clarence

Lumbar spinal stenosis is a narrowing of the spinal canal, which leads to compression of the nerves that travel through and from the spine, and can cause pain in the lower back, buttocks, and lower limbs (especially the legs). Patients with lumbar spinal stenosis may experience pain while walking, and may need to make frequent stops to rest before continuing. While this condition is commonly associated with degenerative changes as a result of aging, conservative treatments or minimally invasive surgery can still be helpful in terms of alleviating symptoms and improving a patient’s condition.

The lumbar spine carries about 80 percent of a person’s upper body weight. As a person ages, degeneration may occur, which increases the risk of vertebral displacement or slippage and can cause instability or compression of the nerves within the spinal canal or intervertebral foramen (the opening between every two vertebrae where the nerve roots exit the spine). For some patients, the presence of bone spurs due to enlargement of facet joints in the spine may also cause lumbar spinal stenosis. Delaying treatment not only allows the condition to worsen, but can also lead to a loss of mobility, paralysis, and incontinence.

Treatment of lumbar spinal stenosis primarily aims to help patients regain mobility and muscle function as early as possible. Prior to receiving treatment, patients are required to undergo a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan to determine whether there is disc herniation or rupture. Mild cases may be managed with conservative treatments such as medication, rest, and physical therapy. If the pain persists after 12 weeks of treatment, surgery may be considered.

Surgery is generally categorized as decompression or stabilization procedures. The former targets pain caused by nerve compression and may involve removal of bone spurs or thickened ligaments, while the latter addresses instability issues, such as vertebral displacement or slippage, through the use of metal screws.

Many patients, especially elderly individuals, may be concerned about surgery. Fortunately, minimally invasive procedures have been available for many years and allow for smaller wounds, shorter hospital stays, and quicker recovery. Patients therefore no longer need to be fearful of seeking medical assistance, and should begin treatment as early as possible to avoid further deterioration of their condition.

Reminder: there are numerous treatment methods for lumbar spinal stenosis, each with varying levels of effectiveness and side effects. Patients with questions should consult their physician for more information.