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Yonsei Med J. 2013 Jul;54(4):999-1005. doi: 10.3349/ymj.2013.54.4.999.

Conservative and surgical treatment improves pain and ankle-brachial index in patients with lumbar spinal stenosis.

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  • 1Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, Graduate School of Medicine, Chiba University, 1-8-1 Inohana, Chuo-ku, Chiba 260-8670, Japan.



The pathological mechanism of lumbar spinal stenosis is reduced blood flow in nerve roots and degeneration of nerve roots. Exercise and prostaglandin E1 is used for patients with peripheral arterial disease to increase capillary flow around the main artery and improve symptoms; however, the ankle-brachial index (ABI), an estimation of blood flow in the main artery in the leg, does not change after treatment. Lumbar spinal nerve roots contain somatosensory, somatomotor, and unmyelinated autonomic nerves. Improved blood flow by medication with prostaglandin E1 and decompression surgery in these spinal nerve roots may improve the function of nerve fibers innervating muscle, capillary, and main vessels in the lower leg, resulting in an increased ABI. The purpose of the study was to examine whether these treatments can improve ABI.


One hundred and seven patients who received conservative treatment such as exercise and medication (n=56) or surgical treatment (n=51) were included. Low back pain and leg pain scores, walking distance, and ABI were measured before treatment and after 3 months of conservative treatment alone or surgical treatment followed by conservative treatment.


Low back pain, leg pain, and walking distance significantly improved after both treatments (p<0.05). ABI significantly increased in each group (p<0.05).


This is the first investigation of changes in ABI after treatment in patients with lumbar spinal stenosis. Improvement of the spinal nerve roots by medication and decompression surgery may improve the supply of blood flow to the lower leg in patients with lumbar spinal stenosis.


Ankle-brachial index; lumbar; pain; spinal stenosis

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