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It’s common for office and remote workers to suffer from back pain, and some of them even consider it an inevitable part of their lives. Most people think those problems are just bad posture issues and try to solve them with homemade methods such as using ergonomic chairs or applying ice, but what if the problem is more serious than having a bad posture?
If that was the case, you’d be letting your back problems get worse each day and allowing many other back conditions and illnesses to appear. One of those conditions is lumbar spinal stenosis, which narrows the space within your spinal cord, impeding it and the adjacent nerves to work as they should.
You must take care of this issue as soon as you notice it, so we are here to provide you with all the information you need to know about the symptoms and available treatments of this condition. Your priority must be your safety, so make sure to learn as much as you can about lumbar spinal stenosis and walking problems!
What Causes Lumbar Spinal Stenosis?
As we mentioned before, when you talk about lumbar spinal stenosis, you are talking about the compression or narrowing of the space within your spinal cord. However, you must be careful regarding this matter since many things can cause that condition to happen.
To understand the problem and thus how to treat it, you need to understand what produces it, so here is a list of the most common causes of lumbar spinal stenosis:
It’s easy to notice lumbar spinal stenosis if it’s originated from spinal injuries since those problems don’t come from any indirect issue or congenital condition. Direct accidents such as car crashes or any heavy hit you receive that can dislocate your bones, break them, or cause extreme inflammation can damage your spinal canal, putting a lot of pressure on your spinal nerves.
Your ligaments are an essential part of your body since they hold your bones together, including, logically, your spinal cord. However, issues such as arthritis can cause your ligaments to thicken and consequently bulge into space within your spinal canal. This issue doesn’t only produce lumbar spinal stenosis but also major walking problems if not treated on time.
If you are having a case of bone spurs and overgrowth of the bones within your spinal cord, you are prone to develop lumbar spinal stenosis. The name of this issue is osteoarthritis, also known as the wear and tear condition, which breaks down the protective covering of your joints and makes your bones rubbing against each other and creating bone spurs.
Tumors, whether if cancerous or benign, can form within the space in your spinal cord. The abnormal growth of the tumors can limit the space for your nerves and spinal cord, causing this spinal stenosis to happen. You should make a doctor’s appointment as soon as you feel any unusual sensation or pain in the back since it’s not easy to detect those tumors without realizing the corresponding tests.
What Are the Symptoms of Lumbar Spinal Stenosis?
The best way to prevent major issues that can be detrimental to your health is to detect their symptoms on time and treat them properly. However, it’s not that easy to recognize which illness or condition the symptoms correspond to since many diseases share the same symptoms, so you have to notice more than one.
Lumbar spinal stenosis is a dangerous matter that you have to identify as soon as you can, so here is a list of the primary symptoms to help you check if you have any of them:
There are two more types of spinal stenosis: cervical and thoracic spinal stenosis. Both of them have different symptoms that help you notice them. Since all three diseases are directly related and can affect one another, here are the symptoms of thoracic and cervical spinal stenosis:
Thoracic Spinal Stenosis
Cervical Spinal Stenosis
What Is the Best Treatment for Spinal Stenosis?
When suffering from this condition, you can ask yourself: what’s the best treatment for spinal stenosis? Or what’s the latest treatment to solve it? Our primary condition is your safety, so you can read this article as an objective information page to help you ease your pain and eliminate your back problems.
The most effective solution to spinal stenosis is spinal surgery since it can address all the issues occurring within the space of your spinal cord and even related problems that you didn’t consider when asking for surgery. Look at the best and latest treatments for spinal stenosis:
Medications: Such as opioids, anti-depressants to reduce chronic pain, and pain relievers can help you to ease the pain and sensations caused by this condition.
Physical Therapy: Since it helps you stay active. Commonly, spinal stenosis patients tend to be less active and weak to the pain and lack of mobility, but if you ask your doctor to help you arrange physical therapy, you can maintain and improve your flexibility, endurance, and balance.
Applying heat/Cold: This is one of the most common alternatives for people who want to try self-help remedies. Applying heat to the areas where you feel the most pain relaxes your muscles and helps your broken joints while improving your blood flow. If the heat doesn’t work, try ice, which significantly alleviates inflammations, tenderness, and swelling.
Decompression Procedure: This procedure is only available for patients who have lumbar spinal stenosis caused by thickened ligaments. Doctors don’t need to apply anesthesia nor stitches to complete this procedure, since it consists of making a little incision to remove the thickened parts of the ligaments to make more space for the spinal cord, decompressing nerve roots.
Steroids Injections: It’s not recommended that you apply this method very often, since you can only use it to ease inflammation and pain for a limited time. The treatment consists of injecting corticosteroids in the area where the nerve roots are to reduce inflammation and pain, but that’s its only effect and it cannot eliminate spinal stenosis by itself.
Surgery: Patients ask for surgery when they can’t stand the pain anymore, and the disease is becoming a setback to realize daily activities. This method is delicate and has to be done very carefully, but it’s highly effective to free yourself from spinal stenosis. There are many surgeries regarding this matter, so here is the primary one:
Your spinal cord is an essential part of your body and you have to take special care of it since if damaged, it can be the reason why you suffer from highly dangerous conditions and illnesses in the future. If you feel or notice any of the symptoms you read in this article, get a doctor’s appointment as soon as possible to make sure the problem doesn’t progress, and you can treat it on time.
Everyone has heard of sciatica, but few people know what it actually is – or isn’t. Sciatica is not a spinal condition or disease, but rather a set of symptoms associated with a variety of spinal conditions. It’s characterized by irritation or compression of the sciatic nerve. Unfortunately, sciatic episodes are painful and can diminish your quality of life.
Below, we’ll explore the topic of sciatica, what causes it, and how it’s treated. With the range of advanced sciatica remedies available today, you can attain relief from this form of nerve pain.
Sciatica pain moves along the sciatic nerve. As the longest nerve in the body, the sciatic nerve extends from the base of the spine through the hips and buttocks and down the legs to the tips of the feet. Considering the length of this nerve, sciatica pain can impact a large portion of the body.
If you’re struggling with undiagnosed nerve pain, you may wonder: What does sciatica feel like?
Symptoms of compression or irritation of the sciatic nerve can include:
In severe cases, sciatica can contribute to the development of cauda equina syndrome. This syndrome involves compression of the cauda equina nerves, which may lead to lost bowel and bladder function. This complication is rare and doesn’t affect most patients with sciatica.
Sciatica feels like a dull ache, subtle tingling, or burning sensation that moves from the lower back down the back of the legs.
Some patients with sciatica also report weakness and numbness in the leg and foot, or trouble moving the leg, foot, and/or toes. With severe sciatica, it can even be difficult to walk or stand up from a seated position.
With that said, the sensation of sciatica can differ from patient to patient. The feeling of this condition varies depending on the extent of the lumbar nerve compression, as well as the patient’s overall health.
For example, for some patients, sciatica causes a dull, constant ache. But, for others, the condition triggers sharp, burning pain that only strikes when they move into a certain position. Some patients even say that sciatica feels like an electric shock.
If you’re not sure if what you’re feeling is sciatica or not, visit a licensed physician for a diagnosis.
Several different spinal conditions can cause sciatica, including:
When one of the intervertebral discs in the spine becomes damaged, the soft disc interior may protrude from the damaged exterior. This is known as a herniated or ruptured disc.
A herniated disc in the lower back (lumbar spine) can press against the spinal nerves or leak fluid into the spinal canal. This may result in pressure on the sciatic nerve.
Traumatic injuries can compress or irritate the sciatic nerve roots, or the sciatic nerve itself. Car accidents and falls are the most common traumatic injuries that can trigger sciatica.
Spondylolisthesis occurs when one of the vertebrae in the spine slips out of position and rests on the vertebra beneath it, most commonly as a result of spinal degeneration in older patients. This condition can cause sciatica if it impinges on any part of the sciatic nerve.
Lumbar spinal stenosis – the narrowing of the spinal canal in the lower back – can compress or irritate the sciatic nerve. This condition can occur as a result of spinal degeneration, osteoarthritis, and bone spurs.
When a patient experiences sciatica symptoms that don’t resolve after a few weeks of conservative therapies, the physician will likely conduct imaging tests to verify that the nerve pain is resulting from sciatica.
Key causes of sciatica including a slipped disc and bone spurs will appear on many types of imaging tests, including a CT scan, MRI scan, and x-ray. Since an x-ray is much faster and more affordable than either a CT or MRI scan, it’s likely to be ordered first.
Sciatica can be categorized by the length of time that the symptoms persist, or by the legs (one or both) that are impacted.
When sciatica is categorized by the duration of the pain, it’s said to be either acute or chronic.
When sciatica is categorized by the legs that are affected, it’s said to be either alternating or bilateral.
Left untreated, sciatica pain may worsen, eventually leading to permanent nerve damage. This could lead to chronic pain in other areas of the body. With this in mind, it’s essential for patients to receive prompt treatment for sciatica pain, even if it appears to be a mild case.
For sciatica treatment, physicians usually begin with several months of conservative treatment before considering surgery.
Conservative, non-surgical treatments for sciatica typically include physical therapy, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), and low-impact exercises. Alternative methods such as massage therapy, acupuncture, chiropractic adjustments, and acupressure may also be employed.
In addition to the non-invasive treatments listed above, there are several ways that you can adjust your lifestyle to enhance your sciatica recovery, including:
In severe cases of sciatica involving unrelenting and/or debilitating symptoms, non-invasive treatments and lifestyle adjustments may fail to provide relief. In these cases, surgery for sciatica, such as a discectomy or foraminotomy, may be required.
Spinal decompression surgery relieves the pressure on the sciatic nerve and is often paired with spine fusion surgery to stabilize the spine. During fusion, bone graft material is placed in between the affected vertebrae, causing them to slowly fuse into a single bone.
Unfortunately, spinal fusion eliminates the independent mobility of the fused vertebrae. This limits patients’ mobility after the procedure while requiring an extensive recovery process.
Cases of acute sciatica typically resolve within four to six weeks with rest and at-home remedies. However, chronic sciatica can take much longer to fully resolve, depending on its cause.
If chronic sciatica doesn’t require surgery, it may go away within four to twelve weeks of rest and rehabilitation. For sciatica cases that do require surgery, the recovery process after the operation may last for four to six weeks. But, if spinal fusion is performed, the patient may not fully heal for six months to a year.
Given that spinal fusion greatly prolongs the sciatica recovery process, many patients seek out other options. Thankfully, there’s a spinal fusion alternative that’s proven to improve clinical outcomes, shorten the recovery process, and preserve the patient’s natural range of motion in the individual vertebrae: the TOPS Posterior Arthroplasty procedure.
TOPS is one of the exciting advances bringing new hope to patients with moderate to severe spinal conditions who aren’t responding to conservative treatments. Premia Spine, the creator of the TOPS System, is at the forefront of advanced surgical treatments for spinal disorders.
We encourage anyone with lower back pain and sciatica symptoms to investigate all their treatment options before undergoing spinal fusion. With the range of cutting-edge therapies available today, you can achieve sciatica relief without the limitations and drawbacks associated with fusion.
Although it’s not as common as spinal stenosis or a herniated disc, spondylolysis is near the top of the list of conditions that can cause lower back pain. This spinal condition is relatively common, affecting approximately one out of 20 people. You may also hear it referred to as a stress fracture or pars defect.
Learning about spondylolysis can help you better understand the factors that could be behind your back pain. In this article, we’ll provide a detailed overview of spondylolysis, including modern treatment options for this condition.
Spondylolysis is a stress fracture in a vertebra, which is a bone in the spinal column. The fracture occurs at the point where the vertebra connects to the vertebra above it, known as the pars interarticularis.
The pars interarticularis is a thin piece of bone that links the upper and lower segments of the facet joints. It connects the vertebrae and facilitates the movement of the spine.
The fracture in the pars interarticularis can allow a vertebra to move out of its usual position and press against, or compress, the spinal cord. This condition is called spondylolisthesis. Spondylolisthesis can cause several symptoms, with lower back pain being the most common.
Spondylolysis isn’t rare, affecting an estimated 3% to 7% of Americans. Many of the patients who are diagnosed with spondylolysis are younger than traditional spinal patients. In fact, in one orthopedic series, spondylolysis accounted for 47% of cases of acute lower back pain in teen athletes.
Spondylolysis is rooted in a weakness in the pars interarticularis. The exact cause of a weakness in the pars interarticularis isn’t known.
With that said, factors that can influence the weakness in the vertebrae that characterizes spondylolysis include:
Genetics are believed to play a role in some cases of spondylolysis. Some children are born with this spinal condition.
Repetitive spinal trauma may also lead to spinal trauma. This commonly occurs in young athletes who frequently stress the spine. In two prospective studies, the incidence of lower back pain in athletes with spondylolysis was 72.5 % in high school rugby players, 80.5% in college football players, and 79.8% in high school football players.
The good news is that many people with spondylolysis remain asymptomatic. Asymptomatic patients have no symptoms and are usually unaware they even have spondylolysis.
When the spondylolysis does cause lower back pain, it usually spreads across the lower back. Spondylolysis pain often feels like a muscle strain and is generally exacerbated by exercise or vigorous activities.
In adolescent patients, spondylolysis symptoms often appear during growth spurts. This makes the most common age of diagnosis for teenage patients with spondylolysis 15 to 16.
Spondylosis and spondylolysis are often confused, and it’s easy to see why. The names of these spinal conditions are very similar. But, each is a distinct ailment with different causes and symptoms.
The spondylosis diagnosis is used for degenerative osteoarthritis of the spine. With this condition, the cartilage that protects the ends of the vertebrae breaks down. As a result, the space between the vertebrae shrinks.
Spondylosis may also involve age-related degeneration of the spinal discs and bone spurs. This condition differs from spondylolysis, which specifically involves a stress fracture in the pars interarticularis.
We’ve already mentioned spondylolisthesis and how it can result from spinal instability caused by spondylolysis. Similar to spondylosis, spondylolisthesis is commonly confused with spondylolysis. Additionally, spondylolysis can often cause spondylolisthesis, which further adds to the confusion.
Ultimately, spondylolisthesis involves vertebral misalignment due to spinal instability, while spondylolysis is a stress fracture of the pars interarticularis.
Most cases of lumbar spondylolysis are resolved with non-surgical treatment methods. Non-surgical spondylolysis treatment often involves lifestyle modifications, medications, and physical therapy.
Spondylolysis is a common injury in young athletes, namely those who are involved in sports that involve spinal hyperextension. So, physicians generally recommend that spondylolysis patients take a break from sports to give the spine time to heal.
Simple over-the-counter non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) can often relieve mild spondylolysis symptoms.
Physical therapy is one of the most effective non-invasive treatment options for spondylolysis. Your physical therapist can help you regain a high quality of life and safely go back to your usual activities.
The goals of physical therapy for spondylolysis are to:
In general, patients with spondylolysis should try to avoid all high-impact activities, such as running, as well as activities that put added stress on the lower spine. Heavy lifting, football, diving, and competitive swimming can all strain the lower spine.
With spondylolysis exercises to avoid in mind, it’s important to stay active with spondylolysis. Physical activity improves blood flow to the damaged and irritated spinal tissues, which facilitates the healing process. Additionally, gentle exercise will help you maintain muscle strength and mobility throughout your recovery.
Many patients, especially young athletes, are eager to avoid spending time on the bench due to spondylolysis. While genetic factors that may make you more susceptible to spondylolysis can’t be altered, certain tactics may help you prevent this spinal condition.
First off, consider a sports injury prevention program, which may be available from your local physical therapist. This type of program focuses on safely building muscle strength and increasing flexibility. Together, strength and flexibility can help prevent excess strain on the spine.
Additionally, avoiding repetitive motions that strain the back can help prevent lumbar spondylolysis. Unfortunately, this may not be possible in specific sports, such as gymnastics and weightlifting. Athletes who are predisposed to spondylolysis should consider talking to their coaches about their unique needs.
As a general rule of thumb, practicing proper posture can help avert spondylolysis and a host of other spinal conditions. Try to be mindful of your posture while you sit, stand, and lift heavy objects. Keeping your spine straight with your shoulders back and head levels allows for proper spinal alignment.
In moderate to severe spondylolysis cases that don’t respond to conservative treatments, spondylolysis surgery may be required. There are a few different surgical approaches that your physician may recommend.
Surgery may be implemented to repair the spinal stress fracture. During this type of procedure, the surgeon will likely use a titanium screw to secure either side of the fracture together. For additional support, your surgeon may also place bone graft material in the affected area.
Patients with spondylolysis and nerve compression from spondylolisthesis may benefit from spinal decompression surgery. Spinal decompression involves removing a portion of the defective vertebra that’s compressing the spinal nerve.
Typically, spinal fusion surgery is performed following the decompression procedure to stabilize the spine. Spinal fusion involves placing bone graft material in between the affected vertebrae. This process, over several months, permanently fuses the targeted vertebrae.
Unfortunately, while spinal fusion can successfully prevent spinal instability after decompression surgery, it also eradicates the independent motion of the vertebrae. This leaves patients’ mobility seriously compromised and increases the risk of degeneration in the neighboring vertebrae.
With these downsides (among others) in mind, many modern spondylolysis patients look for spinal fusion alternatives. Recently, an advanced alternative to spinal fusion, the TOPS™ posterior arthroplasty procedure, has gained prevalent in the United States. Having been approved and successfully used for years in Europe and other countries, the TOPS™ System provides better clinical outcomes than fusion while preserving the patient’s full range of back motion.
Back pain is one of the world’s most common and debilitating medical conditions. As pioneers of advanced surgical treatments for spinal disorders, we at Premia Spine encourage anyone suffering from back pain, including spondylolysis pain, to learn about all the treatment options available today.
Back pain is a universal health concern, and it doesn’t discriminate. The factors that trigger back pain are often the same in women and men. However, certain causes of back pain, such as menstruation, pregnancy, and osteoporosis, are either unique to or more prevalent among women.
The most common issues of lower back pain in females are menstruation, pregnancy, stress, osteoporosis, and spinal conditions like disc disease, herniated discs, spondylolisthesis, and spinal stenosis. Let’s research them deeper:
Menstruation is a key cause of back pain that exclusively affects women. During menstruation, the uterus produces substances known as prostaglandins. Prostaglandins manage muscle contraction, and during menstruation, they send messages to the uterus instructing it to contract.
These muscle contractions are the direct cause of cramps and back pain during menstruation. Additionally, the cramps associated with menstruation place added stress on the back muscles, potentially leading to back muscle pain.
Pregnancy often causes back pain, particularly in its later stages. The added weight of carrying the fetus puts significant stress on the spine, as well as the supporting muscles and ligaments.
Additionally, the ligaments stretch and soften during pregnancy. This is one of the body’s methods of childbirth preparation. Unfortunately, as the ligaments soften, the lower back and pelvis become less supported. This may trigger back pain.
Also, while being overweight for any reason can cause back pain, the rapid weight gain that occurs during pregnancy compounds the problem.
Mental stress is known to cause or contribute to back pain, in part because it contributes to the involuntary tightening of muscles in the back. Stress can also cause or exacerbate back pain during pregnancy which, as a major life change, is a time of great psychological stress.
Later in life, our bodies’ bone-building process gradually weakens. As a result, calcium is depleted from our bones, and our overall bone mass drops. The bones become more brittle, making them more prone to breakage. This phenomenon, which is referred to as osteoporosis, is more common among women than men.
If osteoporosis causes spinal fractures (known as compression fractures), it can lead to severe back pain. With a compression fracture from osteoporosis, patients typically struggle to sit, stand, and walk.
Common spinal conditions, such as degenerative disc disease, herniated disc, spondylolisthesis, and spinal stenosis, affect women, just as they do men. These conditions can lead to chronic lower back pain.
Lower right back pain in females can be caused by spinal conditions, soft tissue injuries, endometriosis, uterine fibroids, pregnancy, or various underlying conditions.
The spinal conditions that can cause lower right back pain in females include spinal stenosis, degenerative spondylolisthesis, and disc degeneration. These conditions can trigger spinal nerve compression, which may lead to sharp or burning pain in the right side of the back.
Endometriosis, uterine fibroids, and pregnancy are possible causes of lower right back pain that can only occur in women.
Certain internal organs can lead to lower right back pain in female patients. Specifically, organs located in the pelvis, abdomen, and mid-back area may be the root of lower back pain.
In women, the reproductive organs in the pelvis can trigger pain in the lower right area of the back. For instance, endometriosis, which typically affects the ovaries and fallopian tubes, can lead to pain that extends to the lower back.
The appendix is an organ that’s linked to the large intestine. People who develop appendicitis, which occurs when the appendix becomes inflamed, can develop lower right back pain.
Appendicitis requires immediate treatment to prevent rupture and complications. In addition to lower right back pain, symptoms may include sudden pain on the right side of the lower abdomen that worsens with abrupt motions, loss of appetite, nausea, and vomiting.
The kidneys are organs that remove waste from the blood. Kidney issues, such as kidney stones or a kidney infection, can lead to pain on one side of the lower back. Other symptoms of kidney problems often include pain while urinating, nausea, and vomiting.
Ulcerative colitis is a condition that’s characterized by inflammation in the colon. It causes repeated cramping in the abdomen that may trigger lower back pain, as well as symptoms including diarrhea, weight loss, and fatigue.
Extreme lower back pain can be a cause for concern. But, since back pain is a common ailment, it can be difficult to know whether or not your pain requires medical attention.
As a general rule of thumb, visit your doctor for an evaluation if you experience back pain that persists for longer than two weeks and holds you back from regular activities. If you experience severe back pain, visit a doctor sooner than after two weeks. Additionally, seek out immediate medical care if you have:
Whatever its origin, there’s no reason to live with back pain, as a variety of treatment options exist for all their causes. Women wondering how to help lower back pain may consider physical therapy, medication, or even lifestyle changes to alleviate back pain caused by spinal conditions.
Physical therapy can help with lower back pain by helping relieve tension in the back muscles. Additionally, physical therapy exercises can target and strengthen the muscles that support the back.
Over-the-counter pain and anti-inflammatory medications may help women manage lower back pain in the short term. These medications can also help alleviate menstrual cramps and the associated back pain.
However, women experiencing back pain caused by more complex conditions, such as endometriosis, should speak with their doctors about the available prescription medications for the condition.
Lifestyle changes may help you naturally achieve relief from lower back pain. For example, in women experiencing back pain during pregnancy, gentle, low-impact exercise may offer relief.
Women with back pain caused by cramps during menstruation can consider lifestyle changes including quitting smoking, cutting down on alcohol consumption and adding more high-fiber foods to their diet. Additionally, women with spinal conditions, such as spinal stenosis, may need to modify their activities to avoid straining the spine.
Surgery is rarely required for women with back pain. However, if the back pain doesn’t resolve within six months of conservative treatment, your doctor may recommend spine surgery for lasting pain relief.
Among women for whom spine surgery is recommended, there are multiple surgical approaches to consider. Thankfully, advanced microsurgical techniques and stabilization systems provide effective treatments for potentially disabling spinal conditions.
Decompression spinal surgery is a commonly performed spinal procedure for conditions including spinal stenosis, spondylolisthesis, and herniated disc. In this procedure, a portion of the vertebra that’s impinging on a spinal nerve is removed. Decompression surgery can have a dramatic and immediate impact on back pain associated with prevalent spinal conditions.
Spinal fusion surgery has traditionally been performed in conjunction with spinal decompression. This process involves fusing adjacent vertebrae at the affected segment to stabilize the spine.
Unfortunately, while spinal fusion may offer pain relief for patients suffering from chronic back pain, it has numerous drawbacks. For one, spinal fusion eliminates the patient’s motion at the affected segment. As a result, the patient loses the ability to bend, twist, and flex that area of the spine.
Additionally, spinal fusion can lead to adjacent segment disease. This fusion complication occurs when the vertebrae surrounding the fused bone degenerate faster than usual. As a result, the patient may experience back pain, stiffness, and/or neurological symptoms.
Alternatives to spinal fusion are available and can help patients avoid the drawbacks of spinal fusion. The TOPS™ System from Premia Spine, in particular, provides a superior, clinically-proven outcome when compared to spinal fusion back surgery.
Unlike spinal fusion, the TOPS™ System preserves the vertebrae’s range of motion. Having been used since 2005, the system has enabled patients around the world to maintain their full range of activities following decompression surgery. TOPS™ has further advanced the treatment of common but potentially debilitating spinal conditions.
Women experiencing back pain from spinal conditions should consult their doctors to learn about the complete range of spinal treatments available today.
Back pain is one of the most complex and confounding conditions in medicine. There are several types of back pain, typically classified by their cause. These forms of back pain may originate in the back muscles, ligaments, and spinal structures, or even as a result of problems in other parts of the body.
Below, we’ll discuss some of the most prominent types of back pain, along with the causes of each.
Muscle strains are one of the most common lower back pain causes. A strain is a type of injury that affects muscle or tendon tissue. Tendons attach muscle to bone.
With a strain, the affected muscle or tendon has either been pulled, torn, or twisted. This injury is usually caused by overuse, such as engaging in strenuous physical activity that your body isn’t accustomed to. For example, you may sustain a back strain if you lift more weight than your body can safely handle.
Symptoms of muscle strains include muscle weakness, inflammation, cramping, and spasms. You may also experience a reduced range of motion in the back.
A back strain can result in severe lower back pain. However, the pain will remain localized and won’t radiate down to the legs. This is in contrast to back pain caused by certain spinal conditions, which can cause pain that spreads to the extremities.
Sprains and strains are commonly mixed up as back pain types. However, while strains involve muscle or tendon tissue, sprains involve injury to a ligament. Ligaments attach bones within a joint and provide stability to that joint.
With a back sprain, the ligaments in the spine are forced out of their usual position. This is typically caused by a fall, sudden trauma, or forceful twist.
Symptoms of ligament sprains are similar to muscle strains but take longer to heal. While a mild strain typically heals within three to six weeks, a sprain may take between six to eight weeks (or even several months) to heal. If you don’t allow a back sprain to heal properly, it can give rise to chronic back pain.
Although anyone, at any age, can sustain a back strain or sprain, you may be at a higher risk of developing one of these injuries if you:
Back strains and sprains can hamper your day-to-day activities and cause significant pain. To reduce your risk of developing these common back injuries, follow these tips:
Patients who are only experiencing pain on one side of the back often wonder about the cause of their pain. Both lower left back pain and lower right back pain can be caused by injuries to the muscles or ligaments that uphold the spine. One-sided back pain may also be triggered by spinal injuries and conditions.
However, one-sided back pain can also indicate an issue with the kidney, intestines, or reproductive organs. If this is the case, you’ll likely experience additional symptoms, such as nausea, pain while urinating, and/or fever.
Stress-related back pain isn’t an official diagnosis. But, there’s no denying that stress can play a significant role in the development of back pain.
Your body’s natural reaction to concerning, unpleasant, or scary situations is stress. When you feel stressed out, your body releases various chemicals and triggers physical reactions to protect you. These chemicals include cortisol and adrenaline, which tends to cause an involuntary tensing of your muscles.
This is a primal response that’s largely unhelpful against the stressors that people experience today, such as a deadline at work or a complicated social situation.
Frequent stress can lead to significant tension in the back. This may lead to chronic lower back pain when left unaddressed.
A 2021 study published in Scientific Reports confirmed that the severity of stress is directly correlated to chronic lower back pain. Specifically, severe stress was associated with a 2.8-fold increase in the risk of chronic lower back pain.
Spinal conditions are common types of lower back pain. Many of the most common spinal conditions trigger back pain by exerting pressure on the spinal nerves. This typically leads to what’s known as a pinched nerve. A pinched nerve can cause localized pain, much like a muscle strain, but may also involve other parts of the body.
Pinched nerves in the lower, or lumbar region of the spine, can cause burning lower back and leg pain. Surprisingly, a pinched nerve in this region can also have far-reaching effects on the bladder, appendix, large intestine, sex organs, knees, and prostate.
While several different spinal conditions can trigger back pain, the most common include:
A herniated disc occurs when the soft interior of an intervertebral disc protrudes through a damaged portion of the disc interior. The injured disc may push on spinal nerves, causing back pain and other symptoms.
Spinal stenosis develops if the space in the spinal canal becomes more limited. This may result from thickening spinal ligaments, a bulging or herniated disc, and osteoarthritis, among other factors.
Degenerative disc disease refers to symptoms of gradual, age-related spinal disc deterioration. As people grow older, the spinal discs become drier, thinner, and weaker, making them more prone to damage.
Spondylolisthesis occurs when spinal instability causes a vertebra to slip out of its normal position onto the vertebra beneath it. This can cause back pain and neurological symptoms. Although there are many possible causes of spondylolisthesis, the most common are degenerative spinal changes and spinal defects.
Osteoarthritis is also known as wear and tear arthritis. This condition occurs when the cartilage that cushions the joints starts to deteriorate. If osteoarthritis impacts the facet joints in the spine, it can lead to back pain.
When someone has scoliosis, it means that their spine is abnormally curved. This curve may cause back pain in a few different ways. It may cause spinal stenosis, disc degeneration, and facet joint damage. The curved spine can also press on nerves, leading to neurological symptoms.
Several factors can lead to the development of spinal conditions that cause lower back pain. The most prevalent of these factors include age-related spinal degeneration, spinal injuries and disorders, and congenital spinal defects. To understand exactly what’s causing your lower back pain, you’ll need a diagnosis from a qualified physician.
Numerous approaches exist for lower back pain relief in patients with spinal disorders. Almost always, physicians will start with a non-surgical treatment plan for six to 12 months before considering surgery. Most patients don’t need surgery to recover from the symptoms of various spinal conditions.
Simple rest, lifestyle modifications, medications, and physical therapy are among the beneficial non-invasive approaches to alleviate different types of lower back pain.
When patients continue to experience debilitating back pain after months of non-surgical treatment, surgery may be required. Additionally, spinal specialists may recommend surgery if the patient is experiencing significant disability as a result of their condition.
Thankfully, even serious spinal conditions can today be effectively treated with advanced microsurgical procedures. Innovative approaches to spinal decompression surgery use endoscopic techniques for smaller incisions, less blood loss, and less tissue damage.
Advanced, minimally-invasive spinal procedures offer relief from conditions that have condemned previous generations to crippling pain and restricted mobility.
After spinal decompression, spinal fusion is often performed to stabilize the affected portion of the spine. The fusion process involves positioning bone graft material in between the affected vertebrae. The graft will, in the months following the procedure, permanently join the adjacent vertebrae.
Though decompression spinal surgery can dramatically alleviate pain and other symptoms of compressed or pinched nerves, spinal fusion eliminates the independent motion of the fused vertebrae. This limits patients’ activities and increases the risk of degeneration in the surrounding vertebrae.
Today, the limitations of spinal fusion have been surmounted. The TOPS™ System from Premia Spine provides a clinically proven superior alternative to spinal fusion. This non-fusion spinal implant replaces the tissues removed during decompression surgery while preserving the full, independent motion of each vertebra.
If you’re experiencing back pain, don’t hesitate to see a qualified physician. You can achieve relief with the variety of treatment options available today.
Lower back pain is one of the most common medical problems affecting the human population. One reason this problem is so common is because back pain can have many different causes. So if you’re wondering if there’s a cure for your lower back pain, the answer depends on what is causing it. Muscle and ligament strains can cause intense back pain. Many times these strains can be cured with simple rest. Where rest alone won’t relieve the back pain, non-invasive treatments such as medications, steroidal injections, and physical therapy will often ameliorate the symptoms, if not provide an outright cure. For spinal conditions such as spinal stenosis and related disorders of the spine – common causes of lower back pain, with onset typically after the age of 35 – non-invasive treatments may also provide relief. In some cases decompression spinal surgery may be performed to relieve pressure on affected spinal nerves. During this surgery, a surgeon trims away portions of a vertebra that impinge on a nerve. (This impingement is commonly referred to as a pinched nerve.) Spinal decompression surgery can have a dramatic and immediate impact on reducing back pain, providing patients with some level of a “cure.” Traditionally spinal fusion back surgery has been performed in conjunction with spinal decompression, to stabilize the vertebrae where the operation was performed. But spinal fusion eliminates the natural flexion between the fused vertebrae, and can contribute to deterioration of adjacent vertebrae. Today spinal decompression patients have a superior alternative to spinal fusion. The TOPS System from Premia Spine preserves the natural motion of the spine, and has been proven to provide superior results to spinal fusion in clinical trials conducted worldwide.
If you experience lower back pain, the first priority is to identify its cause. Whatever the root of the problem, you will likely have a number of options for effective treatment that will relieve the pain, and in many cases cure the condition.
Patients scheduled for back surgery are rightfully concerned about their recuperation, and how they will care for themselves once home after the spinal surgery procedure. This is an important subject to discuss with your spine surgeon. Some general rules apply to all patients following back surgery. First and foremost, plan on taking an active role in your recovery, and that starts by getting into shape before your back surgery. With your surgeon, physical therapist and others, discuss what activities you can engage in as well as restrictions you need to observe. If you don’t have someone who can provide the assistance you will need in the first days after your return home following back surgery, a home attendant will be provided for you. You will be prescribed pain medications, which help you heal by letting your muscles relax, instead of contracting and writhing in reaction to pain. Let your body rest. You may require frequent naps, as your body recovers from the stress of surgery, and narcotic pain medications induce drowsiness.
But pain medications can also have negative side effects, and if continued their use will prolong recovery time and lead to dependency. Narcotic pain medications cause constipation. Weaning yourself off pain medication should be a recuperation goal. Make sure you drink plenty of fluids during this recovery period. You should be off pain medication three months after surgery. Walking is the best physical activity during the first six weeks post surgery. Start slowly and work up to 30 minutes at least twice a day. Avoid twisting and bending during this time, and avoid lifting, pushing or pulling anything that weighs more than ten pounds.
Another step you can take to ease post-surgery care is select the procedure with the best outcomes and fewest post-surgical complications for the treatment of your condition. For example, the TOPS (Total Posterior Solution) System has been shown in clinical studies around the world to provide better clinical outcomes than spinal fusion back surgery following spinal decompression therapy. TOPS is an approved implant that offers a means of stabilizing the spine after spinal decompression treatment. Unlike spine fusion surgery, the TOPS implant preserves independent movement of the vertebrae. Making sure you choose the procedure with the best clinical outcomes can help ensure you’ll have the best possible recovery.
The human body contains an extensive system of nerves that facilitate communication between the cells. Nerves send and receive messages throughout the body. Without them, we wouldn’t have basic human functions, like movement, balance, and sleep, or sensations, like touch.
Unfortunately, just like the rest of the human body, nerves are susceptible to damage. Radiculopathy is one type of nerve damage that can severely impact one’s mobility and quality of life.
In this article, we’re going to discuss a specific form of this nerve condition: lumbar radiculopathy.
The vertebrae are the bones of the spine. An intervertebral disc is located in between each vertebra and acts as a cushion by absorbing impact.
If the vertebrae or the discs between them impinge on a nerve root in the spinal column, chronic nerve injuries may result. Radiculopathy is the general term for these injuries.
Radiculopathy most commonly occurs in the lower, or lumbar, region of the spine. This condition has been termed lumbar radiculopathy. Though less common, radiculopathy may also occur in the neck, or cervical region of the spine, which is known as cervical radiculopathy.
Common symptoms of radiculopathy include radiating pain, numbness, tingling, and weakness. In some cases, a loss of motor function can result from lumbar radiculopathy. These symptoms may be felt all the way to the tips of the fingers or toes, even though the nerve injury is at the base of the spine.
Radiculopathy symptoms felt in the arms and hands are usually caused by cervical radiculopathy, while those in the back of the leg and the foot usually result from lumbar radiculopathy. The location of the nerve compression determines where radiculopathy symptoms are felt.
The severity of lumbar radiculopathy symptoms can vary from patient to patient. Some patients with radiculopathy experience severe, debilitating symptoms that significantly impact their day-to-day activities.
There are several possible causes for lumbar radiculopathy, including:
Degenerative disc disease is a normal part of the aging process. It occurs when the intervertebral discs weaken and dry out over time. As the discs become damaged, the nerves of the spine may become irritated, leading to radiculopathy symptoms.
Repetitive and high-impact motions can contribute to lumbar radiculopathy. This is more common among people with occupations that require repetitive motions or heavy lifting.
Being overweight or in poor physical health can also contribute to radiculopathy. This is because added body weight puts extra stress on the nerves, which can lead to nerve damage.
Diabetes is associated with heightened blood glucose levels. This can cause the development of deposits within the blood vessels that decrease circulation throughout the body. As a result, high blood sugar can lead to nerve damage.
A genetic predisposition can also increase one’s risk of developing spinal radiculopathy.
Various spinal conditions can cause nerve impingement and lead to radiculopathy. Examples of these conditions include herniated disc, spinal stenosis, osteoarthritis, spondylolisthesis, and scoliosis.
Sciatica is a form of radiculopathy. In fact, it’s the most prevalent type of radiculopathy. It refers to pain that radiates throughout the sciatic nerve, meaning that it starts in the lower back and moves through the buttocks, down the legs, and to the feet.
The terms lumbar radiculopathy and sciatica are commonly used interchangeably. This is because nerve impingement in the lumbar spine typically involves the sciatic nerve. After all, the sciatic nerve is the largest nerve in the body.
Lumbar radiculopathy has the potential to get worse. In some patients, the pain may come and go. But, in others, radiculopathy symptoms are persistent and gradually become worse over time.
If lumbar radiculopathy isn’t promptly addressed, various factors can exacerbate the condition by causing additional nerve damage. These factors include:
Poor posture increases the amount of stress placed on the spinal nerves. In patients who lead a sedentary lifestyle, sitting at a desk with poor posture for hours on end may significantly worsen radiculopathy symptoms.
Repeatedly twisting, bending, and straining the spine can further irritate the affected nerves, leading to worsened radiculopathy symptoms.
Weight-bearing physical activities can cause additional damage to the spinal nerves. Examples of these activities include football, wrestling, weightlifting, soccer, and hockey.
Lumbar radiculopathy treatment methods may be non-surgical or surgical. Doctors begin with non-surgical treatment, and if the patient’s symptoms don’t improve after several months, consider surgery.
Physical therapy, medication, steroid injections, and relaxation are often prescribed successfully to treat lumbar radiculopathy.
Physical therapy is often recommended for lumbar radiculopathy. It involves exercises and therapies designed to improve spinal stability and alignment. This can help create more space for the spinal nerve roots.
Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, or NSAIDs, can help relieve inflammation and pain caused by lumbar radiculopathy. This can help make radiculopathy symptoms more manageable. However, these medications generally aren’t recommended for long-term use.
Epidural steroid injections reduce the body’s inflammatory response at the injection site. For lumbar radiculopathy, this can help alleviate inflammation in the spinal nerves.
Doctors generally advise patients to receive no more than three to four epidural steroid injections per year. Since steroid injections hamper the immune system response, they can cause tissue damage when used in excess.
Rest and relaxation are recommended for patients with lumbar radiculopathy to give the spinal nerves time to heal.
When non-surgical treatments fail to provide relief for radiculopathy of the lumbar region, surgical methods may be recommended. Generally, physicians don’t recommend surgery for lumbar radiculopathy unless the patient has undergone at least six months of conservative treatment.
Spinal decompression surgery is the main surgical lumbar radiculopathy treatment. This type of spine surgery involves removing spinal tissues to alleviate pressure on the affected nerves. Laminectomy, laminotomy, laminoplasty, foraminotomy, and discectomy are all common methods of spinal decompression.
Since spinal decompression surgery involves removing tissues from the spine, it can lead to spinal instability. To prevent this, spinal decompression surgery is often combined with spinal fusion back surgery. This combination of procedures has been a common treatment modality for lumbar radiculopathy patients who don’t respond to conservative treatments.
Spinal fusion permanently joins the affected vertebrae using bone graft material. This prevents all motion in the fused spinal segment. Unfortunately, while this counters instability, it also significantly decreases the patient’s range of motion.
Additionally, fusing two spinal vertebrae forces the adjacent vertebrae to bear additional impact with day-to-day motions. The added impact can cause the adjacent spinal segments to deteriorate at a quicker rate, potentially leading to back pain, stiffness, and neurological symptoms. This complication of spinal fusion is known as adjacent segment disease or ASD.
The TOPS™ (Total Posterior Spine) System is a new advancement in spinal surgery that can be used as an alternative to spinal fusion. Unlike fusion, the TOPS™ System preserves the full natural range of motion of the individual vertebrae, which is lost when the bones are fused.
This spinal implant has also been shown to provide superior outcomes in clinical studies conducted across the globe. With TOPS™, lumbar radiculopathy patients can attain lasting relief for nerve pain without having to worry about complications from spinal fusion.
Advances like TOPS™ give individuals with back problems more options for effective treatments. So, if you’re suffering from persistent radiculopathy pain, speak with a spine specialist about the complete range of treatment solutions available today.
Lower back pain has long been a prevalent health concern around the world. In 2017, the prevalence of lower back pain was estimated to be approximately 7.5% of the world’s population. This totals about 577 million people.
There are numerous causes of lower back pain, as well as countless treatments that can help relieve it. Lumbar spinal decompression is one treatment strategy for alleviating lower back pain caused by a pinched nerve.
This article will discuss lumbar spinal decompression, when it’s implemented, and what patients can expect from the procedure.
Imagine if the branches of a tree were as large at the top as they are at the bottom. Now, imagine that a heavy load is placed on the ends of the very highest branches. This would put an enormous amount of stress on the lower portion of the tree trunk.
This is comparable to what we experience as humans with our spinal columns. The human spinal column is like the trunk of a tree, but we’re as large on the top of the trunk as we are at the bottom. This puts a high amount of stress on the lower back, which is also called the lumbar region of the spine.
The strain of lifting objects and twisting the spine over the course of a lifetime is exacerbated by degenerative spinal changes that occur with age. So, it’s not surprising that most of the back problems that bring patients to spinal specialists are centered in the lower, or lumbar, region of the spine.
The stresses discussed above, along with disease and/or injury, can result in a host of spinal disorders. Bulging or herniated discs, spinal stenosis, and spondylolisthesis are among the most common.
A bulging disc is a spinal disorder that occurs when the exterior of an intervertebral disc weakens, typically from the natural aging process. This can cause the disc to bulge out into one side of the spinal canal.
A herniated disc is essentially one step further than a bulging disc. It occurs when the soft interior of the disc protrudes out through a crack in the weakened disc exterior.
Spinal stenosis can result from a bulging or herniated disc, as well as a range of other factors. It’s a spinal condition characterized by an abnormal narrowing of the spinal canal.
Reduced space in the spinal canal can place stress on the spinal nerves or the spinal cord. But, decompression for lumbar spinal stenosis can effectively alleviate this stress.
Spondylolisthesis is a condition that develops when one of the vertebrae is unstable and slips out of its regular position. The displaced vertebra settles on the vertebra beneath it.
These disorders can place unnatural pressure on the nerves that emanate from the spinal column. This may cause pain, restricted mobility, and other symptoms of a pinched nerve.
Spinal decompression is a method of easing pressure on impinged spinal nerves. It can be performed either non-surgically or surgically. Lumbar spine decompression simply refers to decompression procedures performed on the lower portion of the spine.
The surgical solution for a lumbar pinched nerve involves removing a small amount of tissue from vertebrae in the lumbar region. The surgeon will remove the tissue that’s impinging, or putting pressure, on a nerve. This process is referred to as lumbar spinal decompression surgery.
There are various types of lumbar decompression surgery that may be implemented for different spinal disorders. The most common forms of surgical lumbar decompression include:
Laminoplasty is a procedure that involves making two cuts in the lamina so that it swings outward, like a door. After creating a hinge with the lamina of the affected vertebra, the spinal surgeon will position small bone wedges to keep the “door” from closing. Commonly referred to as open-door laminoplasty, this procedure can effectively alleviate pressure on the spinal nerves without removing the lamina.
In foraminotomy, the surgeon creates more space around the area where nerve roots exit the spinal canal. This area is known as the intervertebral foramen. It acts as a passageway, linking the spinal canal to the periphery.
By opening up the intervertebral foramen in foraminotomy, the spinal surgeon can alleviate pressure on the spinal nerves.
Discectomy is a spinal decompression procedure that involves removing damaged intervertebral disc tissue. The spinal surgeon may remove some or all of the damaged disc, depending on the patient’s needs.
Removing tissue in lumbar decompression surgery can lead to spinal instability. So, historically, spinal fusion back surgery has been performed in conjunction with lumbar decompression surgery to stabilize the spine.
In spinal fusion, the surgeon places bone graft material in between the affected vertebrae. As weeks and months pass after the procedure, the vertebrae will fuse, forming a singular bone. By completely preventing motion in this segment, fusion effectively prevents instability following spinal decompression surgery.
Unfortunately, lumbar decompression and fusion can have certain negative effects on the body, including:
The key downside of spinal fusion is that it prevents all motion in the fused segment. This eliminates the patient’s ability to flex, twist, and bend the spine normally. As a result, patients may no longer be able to partake in their favorite sports and activities after spinal fusion surgery.
The spinal segments that are adjacent to the fused vertebrae must undergo additional stress to compensate for the fusion. This can lead to a complication known as adjacent segment disease (ASD), with which the adjacent vertebrae deteriorate at a more rapid rate. ASD can lead to lower back pain, radiating pain, difficulty walking or standing, and neurological symptoms.
Today, the TOPS™ (Total Posterior Spine) System provides an alternative to spinal fusion that preserves the spine’s natural full range of motion. This advanced spinal implant has been shown to provide better outcomes than fusion in clinical studies performed around the world.
The TOPS™ System provides an important additional treatment option for individuals with moderate to severe pinched nerve symptoms. It can provide a major improvement in lower back pain for patients who don’t respond to non-surgical lumbar spinal decompression therapy.
The recovery period for lumbar decompression surgery can vary depending on the exact procedure and whether or not spinal fusion is performed. However, patients can generally expect to wait four to six weeks before reaching their expected degree of mobility and returning to work.
Spinal fusion prolongs the recovery process for lumbar decompression surgery. It can take up to a year to fully recover from fusion. With this in mind, the TOPS™ System can significantly reduce the lumbar decompression surgery recovery time, allowing patients to return to physical activity much sooner.
Lumbar decompression surgery is an invasive procedure. So, as with any surgical procedure, it comes with certain risks.
With that said, lumbar decompression is widely performed and considered safe. Advancements in medical technology have even made minimally-invasive lumbar decompression surgery possible. This allows for greater safety and a lower risk of complications.
If you have symptoms of a pinched nerve, don’t hesitate to talk to your doctor about the complete scope of treatment options available to you.