Spinal canal stenosis is one of the most common spine conditions, causing severe pain in the lower back and legs, especially when standing up and walking, forcing the patient to stop and sit down.
What causes spinal stenosis?
The most frequent cause of lumbar canal stenosis is lumbar vertebral osteoarthritis, so that, although it is a benign disease, it cannot be cured and it will evolve slowly, making walking more and more difficult.
What are the symptoms of spinal stenosis?
The symptom that characterises spinal stenosis is back pain and, especially, pain in the legs when walking, which causes a progressive decrease of the quality of life of the patient. Relief is achieved by stopping and sitting, but reappears when walking again (claudication).
Although leg pain usually appears progressively, sometimes it can be acute and sudden. In some patients, the pain is accompanied by numbness of the legs, and sometimes even a feeling of loss of strength.
Depending on the time of onset and the intensity of the symptoms, the treatment for spinal stenosis can range from physical exercise and epidural infiltrations to surgery to eliminate the compression of the nerves caused by the stenosis. However, the aggressiveness of the surgery and the anaesthetic risk sometimes do not allow this treatment.
What does spinal stenosis treatment involve?
To reduce pain, the alternative to spinal surgery is injections of cortisone derivatives into the spine in order to treat spinal can stenosis. With this, there is a risk of undesirable side effects, especially in elderly, diabetic or hypertensive patients.
An alternative treatment to epidural corticosteroid injections is the administration of ozone. Ozone is a gas with anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties that has been proven effective for many years in osteoarthritis of joints (knee, hip, shoulder, hands ...), in paravertebral muscular pains and lower back pain and sciatica by hernias or disc protrusions.
Ozone injections for the treatment of lumbar canal stenosis are achieving results similar to those obtained with the use of cortisone, but without the side effects.
The treatment consists of two outpatient injections 7-15 days apart. Occasionally, a third is needed to increase relief and prolong the duration of the effect.
To administer the treatment, an epidural puncture performed with the usual rules of asepsis. It can be performed as an outpatient treatment without hospitalisation. The patient remains lying on the table for 20-30 minutes after the injection, then can go home.
If the treatment is effective, it should probably be repeated after 4-6 months.
Ozone injections may not always be effective against spinal stenosis, as with all osteoarthritis treatments, but the lack of better alternatives places it in among the best and preferable non-surgical treatments for the management of disabling pain in patients with canal stenosis.