The spine is one of the most important parts of the human anatomy. It performs the vital role of protecting the spinal cord and column. The human spine connects the brain to different parts of the body and facilitates a range of body motions that involve bending and twisting, while supporting the body’s weight. Spinal stenosis is one of the health risks that can impact the functionality of the spine. The condition occurs when the canals, through which the spinal cord and nerves pass, narrow, causing pain and inflammation. Physicians who are members of the Texas Health Spine and Orthopedic Center referral line treat various spine and orthopedic conditions including spinal stenosis. To help better understand the condition, the post differentiates between three types of stenosis- lumbar, cervical, and thoracic stenosis. Take a look.

 

Lumbar Stenosis

Lumbar stenosis impacts the spinal cord and nerves at the level of the lumbar vertebra (the vertebrae between the rib cage and the pelvis). According to Spine-Health, almost 400,000 Americans suffer from pain due to lumbar stenosis. Lumbar stenosis can result in numbness of the buttocks, thighs, and calves, and can cause neurogenic claudication. Patients suffering from neurogenic claudication feel pain and numbness in the calf area when standing or walking. The discomfort subsides when they rest.

Symptoms

  • Numbing sensation in the lower back, often impacting the buttocks and legs
  • Leg pain and cramping
  • Decreased bladder control

Causes

  • Osteoarthritis – This can causes changes in the disc leading to thicker ligaments in the spine and bone spurs.
  • Herniated disc – The herniated portion of the disc can put pressure on the spinal cord or nerves.
  • Spinal injuries – A fracture or inflammation in the spine.
  • Paget’s disease – abnormally large and brittle bone growth can cause narrowing of the spinal canal.

Diagnosis

  • Bicycle test, in which patients are required to pedal on a stationary bicycle
  • Physical examination
  • Diagnostic testing, such as MRI and CT scan

Treatment

  • Non-surgical treatment options
  • Physical therapy
  • Medication management
  • Steroid injections
  • Surgical options
  • Spinal decompression with or without fusion

Read More : All you Need to Know About Spinal Stenosis

Cervical Stenosis

Cervical spinal stenosis impacts the spinal canal at the level of the neck and can result in the narrowing of the neck’s spinal canal. Non-surgical treatment options may often yield partial results, and patients may have to undergo surgery for pain relief.

Symptoms

  • Body weakness
  • Stiffness or pain impacting the neck, shoulders, arms, hands, and legs
  • Reduced bladder control
  • Coordination problems when walking

Causes

  • Aging
  • Spinal injuries
  • Congenital defects

Diagnosis

  • Physical examination involving checking the neck’s range of motions.
  • Diagnostic testing, such as X-rays, MRI and CT scan.

Treatment

  • Non-surgical treatment options, including exercises that stretch and strengthen the supporting muscles to relieve pain.
  • Surgical options that focus on compressing or decompressing the spinal cord, relieving pressure on the spinal cord, or widening the spinal canal.

Cervical stenosis can be dangerous as compared with lumbar stenosis, and can result in paralysis in extreme cases. The Texas Health Spine and Orthopedic Center referral line members perform spine surgeries to treat various spinal deformities, including spinal stenosis, and can connect patients suffering from typical symptoms to a physician to avoid further complications.

Thoracic Stenosis

Thoracic vertebrae are 12 in number, and located between the cervical vertebrae and lumbar vertebrae. They help nerve roots send signals between the spine and the brain. Thoracic stenosis can impact any of the 12 vertebrae, impacting the body’s ability to rotate and move from side to side.

Symptoms

  • Pain in the legs, neck, ribs, and internal organs
  • Numbing sensation affecting the back and legs
  • Difficulty walking
  • Muscle weakness

Causes

  • Degenerative disc diseases
  • Aging
  • Congenital defects, such as tumors
  • Herniated and bulging discs

Diagnosis

  • Doctors often recommend myelography tests that focus on detecting the pathology of the spinal cord.
  • Physicians might also need MRI scans to ascertain the patient’s condition.
  • Physical examination, in which the doctor may use a reflex hammer to test deep tendon reflexes.

Treatment

  • A change in posture, such as straightening the upper back while sitting.
  • Physical therapy to strengthen the impacted area.
  • Surgical alternatives that include broadening the spinal canal, fusing bones, relieving pressure off the nerves, and removing bones.

Conclusion

Early diagnosis and timely treatment is key to recovery for patients suffering from spinal stenosis. At Texas Health Spine and Orthopedic Center, we connect consumers with physicians in the referral program who perform different diagnostic tests and other examinations to differentiate between lumbar stenosis, cervical stenosis, and thoracic stenosis to provide treatment. To get answers to your questions, fill out our contact 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 Center.