What is Spinal Stenosis?
Spinal stenosis, as the name suggests is a disease of the spine wherein the nerves of the spine experience pressure because of narrowing of the spaces in the spine. The condition mostly occurs in the lower back and neck and is mostly caused by the wear and tear in the spine because of osteoarthritis. Physicians participating in the Texas Health Spine and Orthopedic Center treat a variety of spine conditions including spinal stenosis.
Types of Spinal Stenosis
Depending upon where the narrowing occurs in the spine, spinal stenosis can be classified into two major types.
- Cervical Stenosis– Occurs at the neck
- Lumbar Stenosis– Occurs in the lower back
Symptoms of Spinal Stenosis
Does it hurt when you stand upright and does the pain subside when you lean forward? Well, this is one of the symptoms of spinal stenosis. Some of the other common symptoms of spinal stenosis include:
- Balancing issues
- Pain in the lower back
- Numbness in the legs and buttocks
- Weakness in the legs or arms
These symptoms often worsen over time. Some more specific symptoms include:
- Sciatica: Pain starts in the lower back or buttocks and spreads to the entire leg.
- Foot drop: You need to ‘slap’ your foot on the ground every time you feel weakness in the leg.
- Pain while standing or walking.
- Loss of bladder or bowel control.
Causes of Spinal Stenosis
Arthritis is one the major reasons a patient develops spinal stenosis. Patients diagnosed with arthritis experience pressure on spinal cords and nerves which is mainly caused by the breakdown of cartilage.
In addition to arthritis some of the other causes of spinal stenosis include
- Spine defects present at birth
- Scoliosis or spinal curvature
- Paget’s disease: Abnormally large and brittle growth of bones.
- Achondroplasia: A type of dwarfism
- Injuries caused by an accident that may even lead to spine fractures.
- Tumor that spreads to the spine, it may lead to spinal stenosis too.
- Cracks in the cushion that can force the material to seep out and cause pain. The condition is commonly referred to as a herniated disc.
A small population is born with stenosis or some disease which might cause spinal stenosis at a later stage. Usually those people start showing symptoms during the ages of 30-50. Another common and most natural cause of stenosis is aging. Bones may become bigger and tissues thicken, thus compressing the nerves.
Treatments for Spinal Stenosis
To provide relief from the pain, medication management and spinal injections can be tried, wherein the physician uses cortisone injections in your spinal column to reduce the swelling and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). Physical therapy is also used at times to strengthen the muscles.
In cases of severe pain or neurological loss, surgery may be the best option to relieve pressure permanently. Surgery options include:
- Laminectomy:To provide more space for nerves by removing a portion of the lamina.
- Foraminotomy:To widen the part of the spine where the nerves exit.
- Spinal Fusion:When multiple levels of the spine are involved, it is performed to prevent instability.
Are you or someone you know looking for spinal stenosis treatment? Call the Texas Health Spine & Orthopedic Center referral line to find a member who is an experienced spine physician focused on treating and managing arthritis conditions, including spinal stenosis. To book an appointment with a physician participating in the referral line, fill out ourappointment form or call at 1-888-608-4762.
Physicians who are members of the referral program practice independently and are not employees or agents of Texas Health Spine and Orthopedic.