Mr. Chatterjee is a retired gentleman of 64 years. His routine now involves daily visits to the local market with occasional trips to the grocery, medicine shops, and bank apart from pursuing his hobby of gardening. For the last 1 year, he is developing cramps in the legs after walking for 15 minutes which compels him to sit down. Off late, he is getting cramps after walking a short distance only along with difficulty in completely emptying his urinary bladder.
Mr. Chatterjee consulted a doctor who advised an X-ray of the lumbar spine followed by an MRI of the spine and diagnosed his condition as Lumbar Canal Stenosis.
This is a disease of the elderly when there is a narrowing of the passage through which the spinal cord and the nerves of the legs pass. This occurs due to age-related changes, overuse of the spine (like those who are heavy workers or sportsperson), and those who hadn’t taken care of their spine at a young age.
The symptoms begin with the experience of leg cramps after walking for some time and this becomes progressively worse. Later patients develop low back pain, sciatic pain in the legs (sharp pain with tingling, numbness), and difficulty in passing urine.
In the initial stage, rest, lifestyle modifications (cycling instead of walking), warm compress are advised. But since this is a mechanical compression, medicines do not give satisfactory relief. The definitive cure comes from surgery.
Surgery for this condition is to remove a portion of the nerve-compressing bone ( laminectomy), in some cases associated with giving additional support to the spine with screws and rods ( spinal fixation).
Surgery is simple, routine operation that gives a long-lasting relief without any risk of paralysis or limbs. Earlier the surgery better is the outcome.