Lumbar Spinal Stenosis
WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW:
Lumbar spinal stenosis is narrowing of the spinal canal in your lower back. Your spinal canal holds your spinal cord. The spinal cord controls your ability to move. When your spinal canal narrows, it may put pressure on your spinal cord.
- NSAIDs: These medications decrease swelling, pain, and fever. NSAIDs are available without a doctor's order. Ask your primary healthcare provider which medicine is right for you and how much to take. Take as directed. NSAIDs can cause stomach bleeding or kidney problems if not taken correctly.
- Acetaminophen: This medicine decreases pain and lowers a fever. It is available without a doctor's order. Ask how much to take and how often to take it. Follow directions. Acetaminophen can cause liver damage.
- Pain medicine: You may be given a prescription medicine to decrease severe pain if other pain medicines do not work. Take the medicine as directed. Do not wait until the pain is severe before you take your medicine.
- Muscle relaxers: This medicine helps relax your muscles. It is also given to decrease pain and muscle spasms.
- Take your medicine as directed. Call your primary healthcare provider if you think your medicine is not helping or if you have side effects. Tell him if you are allergic to any medicine. Keep a list of the medicines, vitamins, and herbs you take. Include the amounts, and when and why you take them. Bring the list or the pill bottles to follow-up visits. Carry your medicine list with you in case of an emergency.
Follow up with your primary healthcare provider or neurologist as directed:
Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.
- Use ice or heat as directed: Ice or heat packs on your neck lower back may help decrease your pain. Ask your primary healthcare provider for instructions about how to use ice and heat.
- Rest: Rest when you feel it is needed. Slowly start to do more each day. Return to your daily activities as directed.
- Maintain a healthy weight: Talk to your primary healthcare provider about your ideal body weight. Extra weight can increase load and pressure on your back bones. Ask about a weight loss and exercise plan if you are overweight.
Physical and occupational therapy:
You may need to see a physical therapist to teach you special exercises. These exercises help improve movement and decrease pain. Physical therapy can also help improve strength and decrease your risk for loss of function. Occupational therapy (OT) uses work, self-care, and other normal daily activities to help you function better in your daily life. OT helps you develop skills to improve your ability to bathe, dress, cook, eat, and drive. You may learn to use special tools to help you with your daily activities. You may also learn new ways to keep your home or workplace safe.
Contact your primary healthcare provider or neurologist if:
- You have a fever.
- You have new or worsening symptoms.
- You have a rash.
- Your symptoms keep you from doing your daily activities.
- You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.
Return to the emergency department if:
- You have a wound that does not heal or is infected.
- You have redness or a hard swelling in your leg.
- You have pain in your leg that does not go away or gets worse.
- Your legs or feet are turning blue or black.
- You cannot control when you urinate or have a bowel movement.
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The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.