The decision to go through with a lumbar spinal stenosis surgery is often fraught with trepidation, thoughts of seconds opinions, and recovery challenges. On top of that, you are still in pain; your quality of life is suffering from the symptoms of lumbar spinal stenosis. Together, this makes for a stressful situation that can leave you feeling powerless.
But the truth is you wield the most power over your healthcare — no matter how many MDs are in the room. The decision to have — or not to have — a lumbar spinal stenosis surgery is yours. So how do you know if you should have the surgery?
Do You Understand Lumbar Spinal Stenosis?
The most important thing about choosing to have a surgery is making sure you understand what is going on. In a nutshell, lumbar spinal stenosis is the narrowing of the spinal canal that protects the spinal cord. When this canal narrows, it puts pressure on the nerves of the spinal cord.
This can result in a range of painful symptoms that make it difficult to maintain your daily activities. Common symptoms of lumbar spinal stenosis include:
- Radicular (radiating) pain
- Poor balance
- Difficulty walking
- Problems controlling urine or bowel movements
Lumbar spinal stenosis tends to worsen over time as it is commonly caused by degeneration. If you are considering a minimally invasive surgery for your lumbar spinal stenosis, you are already ahead by simply taking action to seek treatment. Leaving spinal stenosis untreated can be unnecessarily risky to the health and function of your spinal cord.
Have You Already Tried Non-Surgical Treatment?
Most cases of lumbar spinal stenosis are initially treated with non-surgical treatments. This treatment path is based on your medical history, a physical exam, medical imaging, diagnosis, and the severity of your symptoms.
Non-surgical treatments for lumbar spinal stenosis can include:
- Activity modification
- Walking with support such as a cane
- Avoiding extended periods of standing
- Maintaining a healthy weight to reduce spine and back stress
- At-home care
- Ice Therapy
- Heat Therapy
- Physical therapy
- Manual Therapy
- Strengthening and aerobic exercises
- Stretching and range of movement
- Postural education
- Over the counter pain medications
- Prescription pain medications
- Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs
- Epidural Steroid Injections
- Chiropractic Care
- Manual manipulation
- Spinal adjustment
The experts at Oasis Orthopedic and Spine believe in exhausting non-surgical treatment options for lumbar spinal stenosis before turning to a minimally invasive surgery However, if you and your doctor have tried non-surgical treatments and are not seeing results, you may need to consider surgery as your next best option.
Is Your Lumbar Spinal Stenosis Too Advanced for Non-Surgical Treatment?
While most cases of lumbar spinal stenosis begin with non-surgical treatments, it is not unheard of for a case to be too severe or too advanced to consider a non-surgical route for pain relief. In these situations, the spine specialists at Oasis Orthopedic and Spine will be transparent with you and the severity of your situation.
Oftentimes, when a spine condition does not respond to non-surgical treatment, it is a sign that the condition has progressed to a more serious, severe stage where surgical intervention is needed in order to achieve pain relief.
A key element in determining if your lumbar spinal stenosis is too severe for non-surgical treatment is the impact on the spinal cord and nearby nerves. For example, loss of control over controlling urine or bowel movements is a sign of advanced stenosis.
Your specific symptoms and the degree to which they impact your daily activities, as well as your medical imaging results, will play a key role in determining the severity of your spinal stenosis. If your lumbar spinal stenosis has reached a stage considered too advanced for non-surgical treatment, surgery may be the most effective way to find pain relief.
What Are the Risks if You Don’t Have Lumbar Spinal Stenosis Surgery?
Every surgery has risks, and like most surgeries the risks for a surgery that treats lumbar spinal stenosis can be affected by your general health. This specifically includes obesity, smoking, sleep apnea, and diabetes. Common minimally invasive surgeries that treat spinal stenosis include:
- Endoscopic Foraminotomy
- Anterior or Posterior Cervical Discectomy
- Endoscopic Laminectomy
- Endoscopic Laminotomy
- Lumbar Endoscopic Discectomy
- 360 Fusion (ALIF & PLIF)
- Lateral Lumbar Interbody Fusion
- Posterior Lumbar Interbody Fusion (PLIF)
- Anterior Cervical Discectomy and Fusion (ACDF)
- Transforaminal Lumbar Interbody Fusion (TLIF)
- Anterior Lumbar Interbody Fusion (ALIF)
But many experts and spine specialists believe that the risks of not going through with a surgery to treat lumbar spinal stenosis can be significantly more risky. Not having a surgery to treat your lumbar spinal stenosis can mean you will continue to live with daily pain. Symptoms like a lack of bladder control, numbness, trouble walking, and weakness, are unlikely to get better on their own. In serious situations, leaving lumbar spinal stenosis untreated can lead to permanent nerve damage.
Lumbar Spinal Stenosis Surgery at Oasis Orthopedic & Spine
If you are at the point where you need to decide on having a surgery to treat your lumbar spinal stenosis or not, ask yourself these questions:
- Have my spine specialist and I already tried non-surgical treatments and did not see the results we wanted?
- Is my lumbar spinal stenosis too advanced for non-surgical treatment?
- Have I weighed the risks of not having surgery to treat my lumbar spinal stenosis?
If you have answered “yes” to any of these questions, you deserve to find relief for your lumbar spinal stenosis. The experts at Oasis Orthopedic & Spine can help you determine the right surgery for your specific situation. Complete our treatment finder below to get started.