Posts tagged lumbar radiculopathy
Supervised Physical Therapy Superior To Home Exercise Program For Patients With Lumbar Stenosis
lumbar-stenosis-treatment-pain-relief

Lumbar spinal stenosis is a narrowing of the bony canals in the spine which surround the nerves which supply our lower extremities. The condition is common among aging adults, > 60 years old, and can lead to symptoms such as single or bilateral leg pain, numbness, pins and needles, and/or weakness. Often leg symptoms are more frequent and severe than back symptoms. In our previous blogs we have discussed prior research papers indicating no long term (> 1 year) differences in outcomes between surgery and Physical Therapy for patients with lumbar spinal stenosis. Previous Physical Therapy approaches have focused on lumbar flexion exercises (ex. knees to chest) to create more space for the nerves, but more recent studies have shown benefits of manual therapy, strength training, and body weight supported treadmill walking. A recent research study highlights the importance of Physical Therapy compared to a home exercise program alone.

lumbar-spinal-stenosis-exercises


Minetama and colleagues conducted a randomized controlled trial in the Spine Journal to compare the effectiveness of supervised Physical Therapy compared to a home exercise program for patients with spinal stenosis (2019). Authors randomized 86 patients with neurological claudication (symptoms in legs consistent with lumbar spine compression) to one of the two groups. The Physical Therapy group received treatment twice a week for 6 weeks while the home exercise group received a home program to be performed independently without supervision. Authors assessed function, gait, pain, and activity levels before and after the study. As expected superior outcomes on pain, gait, activity levels, and function were found among the supervised Physical Therapy group compared to those receiving a home exercise program.

Click Here to schedule your next appointment with the experts at MEND

Resolution of Lumbar Disk Herniation Without Surgery

Physical Therapy remains the first line treatment for lumbar disk injuries due to its' non invasive nature and clinical effectiveness.  The natural history of disk injuries is not well established but preliminary data covered in prior blog posts demonstrates regression of these injuries over time.  A recent case study in the New England Journal of Medicine (Hong et al. 2016) described the case of a 29 year old female with pain and pins and needles into her leg.  Her MRI is shown above on the left side of the screen.  The patient did not want surgery and was instead treated with an injection and Physical Therapy.  After 5 months a second MRI was taken, shown on the right, showing resolution of the disk injury. 

This case adds evidence to the regression and resolution of disk injuries over time with conservative care.  Patients are advised to seek care from a local Physical Therapist before attempting more invasive and costly procedures.

Lumbar Injections for Back and Leg Pain
lumbar epidural injections, back and leg pain

The use of lumbar corticosteroid injections is often utilized for patients with back and leg pain (radicular pain) and/or leg numbness, pins and needles, or nerve root weakness (radiculopathy).  In an older adult these symptoms may be due to a narrowing of the canals in which the lumbar nerve roots exit (lumbar stenosis).  These injections are costly and not without risk including a number of cases of infection in 2013-2014.  A recent review of the available literature published this month in the Annals of Internal Medicine found limited effectiveness of these treatments compared to placebo trials for both lumbar radiculopathy and stenosis.  http://nyti.ms/1hEmCDG.  Chou et al. and colleagues reported injections for radiculopathy may offer a small, short-term effect but long term effectiveness is limited.  In patients with lumbar stenosis the evidence reported little to no effectiveness on pain or function.  Physical Therapy is the first line intervention for patients with these conditions. 

Please visit our website, http://www.mendcolorado.com/mendphysicaltherapyconditions-we-treat/, for more information.