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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.

CARE AGREEMENT:

You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your caregivers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment.

RISKS:

You could bleed too much with surgery or get an infection. Your spinal cord or other parts of the spine may be injured. Even with treatment, the signs and symptoms of lumbar spinal stenosis may come back. If left untreated, you may develop further problems. The pain may become worse, which may affect your daily activities. You may not be able to control when you urinate or have a bowel movement. You have a slight risk of becoming paralyzed.

WHILE YOU ARE HERE:

Informed consent

is a legal document that explains the tests, treatments, or procedures that you may need. Informed consent means you understand what will be done and can make decisions about what you want. You give your permission when you sign the consent form. You can have someone sign this form for you if you are not able to sign it. You have the right to understand your medical care in words you know. Before you sign the consent form, understand the risks and benefits of what will be done. Make sure all your questions are answered.

Medicines:

  • Pain medicine: Caregivers may give you medicine to take away or decrease your pain.

    • Do not wait until the pain is severe to ask for your medicine. Tell caregivers if your pain does not decrease. The medicine may not work as well at controlling your pain if you wait too long to take it.

    • Pain medicine can make you dizzy or sleepy. Prevent falls by calling a caregiver when you want to get out of bed or if you need help.

  • Muscle relaxers: This medicine helps relax your muscles. It is also given to decrease pain and muscle spasms.

  • Steroids: This medicine is given as a shot in your back to decrease pain and swelling.

  • Nerve block: A nerve block is a shot of numbing medicine. You may need a nerve block if your pain is not going away, or is getting worse.

Tests:

  • X-rays: These are pictures of your spine that can show problems such as bulges or bone spurs.

  • CT scan: This test is also called a CAT scan. An x-ray uses a computer to take pictures of your spine. You may be given a dye before the pictures are taken to help caregivers see the pictures better. Tell caregivers if you are allergic to iodine or shellfish. You may also be allergic to the dye.

  • MRI: This scan uses powerful magnets and a computer to take pictures of your spine. You may be given dye to help the pictures show up better. Do not enter the MRI room with any metal. Metal can cause serious injury. Tell caregivers if you have any metal in or on your body.

  • Electromyography: This is also called an EMG. An EMG is done to test the function of your muscles and the nerves that control them. Electrodes (wires) are placed on the area of muscle being tested. Needles that enter your skin may be attached to the electrodes. The electrical activity of your muscles and nerves is measured by a machine attached to the electrodes. Your muscles are tested at rest and with activity.

Treatments:

  • Surgery: You may need surgery to widen your spinal canal or to decrease pressure on your spinal cord. Surgery may also be done to fix damaged or injured vertebrae in your back.

  • Physical 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.

© 2014 Truven Health Analytics Inc. Information is for End User's use only and may not be sold, redistributed or otherwise used for commercial purposes. All illustrations and images included in CareNotes® are the copyrighted property of A.D.A.M., Inc. or Truven Health Analytics.

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.

Learn more about Lumbar Spinal Stenosis (Inpatient Care)

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