Treating lumbar spinal stenosis

Medications and physical therapy can help — and so can surgery.

In older adults, one of the most common causes of lower back (lumbar spine) pain is spinal stenosis — a narrowing of the spinal canal that puts pressure on the spinal cord, the nerve roots branching from it, or both. The effects may extend to the buttocks, thighs, and lower legs as well, causing further pain, numbness or tingling, and weakness. In severe cases, bowel and bladder control may be affected. The symptoms of spinal stenosis can severely curtail normal activities, including walking and standing. When the symptoms become chronic, they may set the stage for health problems related to inactivity, such as cardiovascular disease, obesity, and depression.

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