DEAR DOCTOR K: I have painful spinal stenosis in my lower back. My doctor wants me to have surgery, but that seems extreme. Is surgery really my best option?
DEAR READER: Lumbar (low back) spinal stenosis is a common problem, particularly in older people. Spinal stenosis is a condition that affects the bones of the spine -- the vertebrae. The vertebrae are stacked on top of each other like a roll of dimes. Each of the vertebrae has a hole in the center of it, the spinal canal, through which the spinal cord travels. The spinal cord carries the nerves that connect the brain to the rest of the body.