How does COVID-19 impact upcoming appointments?

During this time of public health concern, Ohio State Spine Care remains open, but many appointments may take place via telehealth wherever it's possible and appropriate. For all in-person visits, you can feel confident that our locations are safe. We've taken significant measures to minimize the risk of the spread of COVID-19 and worked tirelessly to ensure that our patients are protected. Please call our office at 614-293-BACK(2225) to schedule. Be sure to visit our special COVID-19 patient and Telehealth webpages for more information. 

Lumbar Spinal Stenosis Treatment

Ohio State Spine Care helps you determine the source of your pain, accurately diagnoses the severity of your condition and helps you choose the least-invasive treatment that’s right for you.

What is lumbar spinal stenosis?

Your spine, or backbone, protects your spinal cord and nerves, and it allows you to stand and bend. Lumbar spinal stenosis causes narrowing in the spine of the lower back. The narrowing can put pressure on your nerves and spinal cord and can cause pain and nerve damage.

Lumbar spinal stenosis occurs mostly in people older than 50. Younger people with a spine injury or a narrow spinal canal also are at risk. Diseases such as arthritis and scoliosis can worsen spinal stenosis.

What is lumbar spinal stenosis?

Your spine, or backbone, protects your spinal cord and nerves, and it allows you to stand and bend. Lumbar spinal stenosis causes narrowing in the spine of the lower back. The narrowing can put pressure on your nerves and spinal cord and can cause pain and nerve damage.

Lumbar spinal stenosis occurs mostly in people older than 50. Younger people with a spine injury or a narrow spinal canal also are at risk. Diseases such as arthritis and scoliosis can worsen spinal stenosis.

Lumbar spinal stenosis symptoms

Symptoms might appear rapidly, gradually or not at all. They include:

  • Pain in your back
  • Pain going down the leg
  • Numbness, weakness or cramping of your legs
  • Bowel and bladder problems, in severe cases

Doctors diagnose lumbar spinal stenosis with a physical exam and imaging tests. Treatments include medications, physical therapy, braces and surgery.

Learn more about brain and spine neurological conditions at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center.

Diagnosing lumbar spinal stenosis

Our experts at Ohio State Spine Care use clinical skills and advanced testing to differentiate lumbar stenosis from other conditions that cause leg pain, including hip joint disease and pain in the legs due to insufficient blood supply.

To confirm the findings of our thorough history, physical and neurological exams, we offer:

  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)
  • Computed tomography (CT), with or without myelography (use of contrast dye in the spinal fluid to study X-ray images of compression of the spinal cord and nerves)
  • Electromyography (EMG), a test that measures the electrical activity of muscles
  • Nerve conduction studies, usually performed with EMG to determine if a nerve is functioning normally
  • X-rays

Lumbar spinal stenosis treatment

Ohio State offers treatments ranging from physical therapy to the most complex spine surgeries. Our physicians, therapists and other health care professionals provide you with options that increase mobility and reduce pain. Most people who come to Ohio State Spine Care don’t require surgery.

Nonsurgical treatments

One of Ohio State’s strengths is our physical therapy program, with therapists who specialize in complex, degenerative spine conditions. Following an examination of posture, back mobility, strength and flexibility, our physical therapists customize a plan for you. We take into account any impairments or functional limitations you have. Typically, you’ll work one-on-one with a therapist on pain-relieving movement strategies and on improvements in balance, strength and flexibility.

Additional nonsurgical treatments include:

  • Education on back care and recommendations for specific needs (such as job demands, recreational activities, home setup)
  • Real-time ultrasound imaging (RUSI) of movement in the spine area to retrain the deep stabilizing musculature of your spine (a highly researched, evidence-based intervention)
  • Anti-inflammatory medications
  • Weight loss guidance, emphasizing healthier eating and exercise to ease pressure on the spine
  • Pilates, yoga and aquatic therapy to strengthen back muscles
  • Acupuncture (provided at Ohio State Spine Care) or dry needling for pain control through Ohio State’s Center for Integrative Medicine
  • Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) unit—a form of electrical stimulation that provides short-term pain relief
  • Massage
  • Injections at the site of the stenosis to relieve pain
  • Spinal cord stimulation at the Center for Neuromodulation if you have chronic pain or have had failed surgeries. A device similar to a pacemaker is implanted beside the spinal cord to deliver mild electrical impulses before pain signals arrive. Instead of pain, you feel a tingling sensation

Lumbar spinal stenosis surgery

If you have pain with walking and have become progressively immobile, we can use both minimally invasive surgery and conventional surgical techniques for these procedures:

  • Decompression surgery (laminectomy) to remove part of the vertebra and relieve pressure on your spinal cord or nerves
  • Spinal fusion surgery to fuse a severely slipped bone with the vertebra below it and restore stability to the spinal column

The vast majority of our patients see positive results, including significant pain relief, improved quality of life and a return to normal activities.

Why choose Ohio State for treatment of lumbar spinal stenosis?

Research

Research

Ohio State performs innovative research in the laboratory, as well as through clinical trials. 

Enroll in a clinical trial

Areas of focus include:

Comparative Study of Minimally Invasive Surgery Techniques [Radiographic and Clinical Outcomes Following Unilateral or Bilateral Posterior Fixation in Minimally Invasive Transforaminal Lumbar Interbody Fusions]: This study compares three different types of minimally invasive surgery to look at how quickly bone fusion occurs and how much function and quality of life patients regain.

Study of Stem Cell Mixture for Bone Fusion [Cellentra Cell Bone Matrix (VCBM) Posterolateral Lumbar Fusion Outcomes Study (VCBM/PLF)]: We are participating as a high-volume center for a randomized, blind study to evaluate a stem cell mixture to promote fusion of bones in lumbar spine surgeries.

Patient Education

Patient Education Animation Library

Learn more about spine conditions and treatments


Our Spine Providers

Additional Information

Please obtain a physician referral before scheduling with our Spine Center and request previous imaging studies (e.g., MRI, CT, X-ray) on a CD from the place where your tests were performed. Please bring to your appointment these and other test results related to your back (e.g., EMGs, bone density reports, ultrasound reports) from your doctor(s).

Preparing for your visit

Share this Page

We'll use your email to contact you about this request. View Terms of Use.
Email me tips for healthy living and other helpful information from The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center.