Spine Lumbar

My doctor says I have spinal stenosis. She saw this on the X-rays and my symptoms match what she says is typical for this problem. Now she wants to send me for a CT scan and an MRI. Do I really need all these extra steps? Seems like an unnecessary expense. Is it?

According to the North American Spine Society (NASS), spinal stenosis describes a clinical syndrome of buttock or leg pain. These symptoms may occur with or without back pain. It is a condition in which the nerves in the spinal canal are closed in, or compressed.

My wife was just diagnosed with spinal stenosis after a long period of back pain that was just getting worse and worse. I'm really concerned because I've never seen her like this. The doctor doesn't seem in a big hurry to do anything more than send her to a physical therapist. Should we be pushing for surgery?

Spinal stenosis refers to narrowing of the spinal canal or the intervertebral foramina of the lumbar spine. The spinal cord travels down the spinal canal, so anything that narrows that space can compress the cord. The spinal nerve roots exit the spinal cord through an opening in the vertebral bones called the intervertebral foramina.

I used to be a cracker jack swimmer "back in the day" as they say now. But for the last two years, I've had constant back pain from an old injury. I've been faithfully doing my exercises at home but always thinking I might just get back in the water and skip all this core training. What do the experts advise?

Water-based exercise has many potential advantages over land-based exercise programs. The warmth and buoyancy combined with elimination of gravity eases joint pain and improves range-of-motion. And because the water gives resistance to movement, you can vary how much or how little resistance there is by standing in shallow versus deeper water and/or by moving slower or faster through the water.

My physician has written me a prescription for aquatic therapy. She thinks this could really help keep me in good condition despite the chronic low back pain I'm struggling with. To be honest, I'm really afraid of the water. Will it really help if I'm panicking?

It's true that not everyone is comfortable in a pool of water -- especially if it's over your head and you are struggling to stay afloat. But in the right setting, it could be very reminiscent of being in the womb -- calm and relaxing.

Revisiting An Old Topic: Lumbar Spinal Stenosis

Two orthopedic surgeons wrote an article on spinal stenosis that was published in 2004. In this article, these same two physicians revisit that topic and update information on causes of spinal stenosis, anatomy, diagnosis, and treatment. Goals of treatment and the ideal patient for each type of treatment are presented.

Aquatic Exercise Benefits Patients with Chronic Low Back Pain

What's one exercise that can reduce pain, improve balance and coordination, while supporting your body weight and giving you a warm, fuzzy feeling all over? How does aquatic therapy in a pool of 90-degree water sound?

I notice at work more than half the people have taken time off because of back pain. So far, it hasn't struck me. If it ever happens, is there some way to cut the sick leave short and get back to work? Maybe I shouldn't think like this, but I do like to be prepared.

It is entirely possible that you might experience nonspecific low back pain at some point in your life. It's estimated that eight out of every 10 adults will report this problem to their physicians. But the prognosis is good. If there's no fracture, tumor, infection, or other serious problem, most people are back up and on their feet quickly.

I'm a 54-year-old woman off work for a work-related back injury. After eight weeks, my back pain still isn't any better. I feel like I might as well be at work. Is there any study that says I'll just make it worse if I go back? Or any reason why I shouldn't return to work?

There are a few things to consider in a case like this. The first is whether or not your back pain is mechanical rather than the result of a serious health problem such as cancer or heart disease. If your physician has cleared you to return to work when you feel ready, then perhaps it is time to ease back into the job.

Finding the Optimal Treatment for Workers with Low Back Pain

For the past 10 years, research in the area of low back pain has taken a different direction. Instead of studying large groups of heterogenous (all different) people, the approach now is to find subgroups of low back pain patients who are most likely to respond to treatment. Sometimes the focus is on treatment in general. In other studies, the response of a subgroup to a specific treatment idea is investigated.

I hurt my back when I twisted wrong coming down a slide at a theme park. The doctor I saw told me to rest for a day, use ice, and then start moving again. Said I should be good as new in a week or two. Well it's been two months and every day I pray for a miracle. The pain brings me to tears some days. Why do they tell people this stuff if it's not true?

Some new and important discoveries are being made about low back pain. For example, it used to be said over and over that eight out of 10 people would suffer a bout of back pain at least once in their lifetime. That's still true. But the next part of the story may not be so true.

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