Degeneration (‘arthritis’) of the lumbar spine creates swelling of joints and thickening of ligaments. This can cause narrowing of the spinal canal and compression of nearby spinal nerves. Typical symptoms include leg pain, cramping, tiredness, numbness, tingling and weakness and a varying amount of back pain. The leg symptoms typically come on when walking and standing and are relieved by leaning forward (eg. over a supermarket trolley). Spinal surgery that removes the pressure on the nerves is referred to as a ‘decompression’. In addition these areas of the spine may need to be stabilised or ‘fused’ so that an adequate decompression can be achieved and spinal alignment maintained.
Mr Rowan Schouten performs surgery on behalf of many health insurance companies and is an affiliated provider for Southern Cross Health Society.