What is degenerative lumbar spinal stenosis (DLSS)?
Degenerative lumbar spinal stenosis (DLSS) is a type of arthritis that affects the lower spine. It is also referred to as spinal osteoarthritis which is a wear and tear type of arthritis that most of us get as we age. Some people will develop extensive arthritis, which will lead to thickening of the spinal joints, and thinning of the spinal discs causing narrowing of the spinal canals. The narrowed canals can lead to compression of the spinal nerves that travel through the canals to the lower back and legs. DLSS is one of the most common causes of disability and loss of independence in the elderly. With the ageing population, the number of people who will develop this condition is expected to grow dramatically in the next 20 years.

What are the symptoms of degenerative lumbar spinal stenosis?
Compression of the spinal nerves due to DLSS can cause pain, burning, numbness, tingling and weakness of the legs, buttock and lower back. The symptoms usually are brought on from standing and walking because the standing and walking posture further narrows the spinal canals. People with DLSS can only stand or walk for short periods of time, which significantly impacts their quality of life. Many are compelled to live a more sedentary lifestyle, which leads to further decline in their overall health.

What treatments are currently available?
Surgery is an option for only a minority of people with DLSS because of the potential risks involved with surgery in the older population. Among those who have surgery, the results are usually positive but the benefits slowly diminish over time. It is recommended that before surgery is contemplated, a course of non-surgical treatment is tried first. However, what constitutes effective non-operative treatment for DLSS is currently not known. 

How will the Boot Camp Program help people with lumbar spinal stenosis?

Dr. Ammendolia and his research team have developed a new treatment approach with the focus of improving standing and walking ability in patients with LSS. The overall goal of the program is to improve the quality of life and maintain independence among the growing number of people who have LSS. The program combines manual therapy, special exercises, instruction on body re-positioning techniques and self-management strategies. Manual therapy uses a special table that helps align the spine to maximize the openings for the spinal nerves. Special exercises help restore weak back and leg muscles and when combined with body alignment strategies, help to reduce the pressure on the compressed nerves when standing and walking. It is known that changing body alignment can reduce symptoms. LSS is a chronic problem and learning how to live more effectively with it using self-management strategies allows you to become more in control and therefore better able to better cope with LSS. Individuals should not attempt this program on their own without consulting with their health care professional to ensure it is appropriate for them.