Having Trouble Standing Straight? It Could Be Lumbar Spinal Stenosis

Having Trouble Standing Straight? It Could Be Lumbar Spinal Stenosis

Moving around is becoming more difficult, and you notice that the discomfort worsens when you stand up straight. As you hunch over for relief, you wonder what’s wrong with your back. Let’s take a look.

You’re wandering through the grocery store, and you find that you can control the pain in your lower back by leaning forward on your cart. This hunching is one of the telltale signs of a condition called lumbar spinal stenosis, which produces symptoms in about 11% of older adults in the United States.

To get the bottom of your hunching, and your back pain, the team here at Spine & Orthopedic Center, under the expert direction of Dr. Rajiv Sood, presents a quick review of lumbar spinal stenosis here.

Spinal stenosis — often a matter of time

Spinal stenosis refers to a narrowing in your spinal canal that can compress nearby nerve roots. As the name suggests, lumbar spinal stenosis (LSS) occurs in the lumbar region of your spine, which is to say, your lower back.

This narrowing is due to degenerative changes — general wear-and-tear — and about 95% of people experience these changes by age 50. More specifically, these changes include:

  • Loss of disc height due to degenerative disc disease
  • Arthritis
  • Bone spurs on your vertebrae
  • Thickening ligaments
  • Spine injuries
  • Tumors (though very rare)

Each of these changes can crowd the space in your spinal canal, which can lead to nerve compression and the symptoms that are common with LSS. Note that while LSS is prevalent, not everyone experiences symptoms.

Hunching, and more, with lumbar spinal stenosis

We kicked off this discussion with a scenario that entailed hunching. When you have nerve compression in your lower back, standing up straight can often pinch the nerve more, which is why you find relief when you hunch forward (or lie down).

Aside from hunching, there are other hallmarks of LSS, including:

  • Pain in your buttocks and legs
  • Numbness and tingling in your buttocks and legs
  • Weakness in your feet (you might drag your foot)
  • Loss of bladder control or sexual function (in severe cases)

The symptoms radiating down into your buttocks and legs are much like sciatica — the stenosis compresses the major nerve that starts in your lower back and runs down both sides of your body.

Because LSS is a degenerative disease, it’s important to understand that these symptoms won’t go away on their own. In fact, they’ll probably get worse, which is why seeking our help early on is an excellent idea.

Standing tall again

If we find evidence of LSS after examination and advanced imaging, our goal is to remedy your symptoms, which we can accomplish with:

If conservative efforts fail to bring you relief, we can explore surgical solutions that relieve the nerve compression.

If you have more questions about lumbar spinal stenosis or you’d like us to evaluate whether you have the condition, we invite you to contact our office in Jonesboro, Georgia, to schedule an appointment.