Spinal Stenosis Overview
Stenosis, by definition, means narrowing; add spinal to this and we have narrowing of the spinal passage. More specifically, spinal stenosis refers to the slow progressive narrowing of the space in your spine reserved for your spinal cord and other spinal nerves.
It is a condition that becomes more common as we age and can have a severe impact on our daily lifestyle and activity level if left untreated. Think about spinal stenosis as if the walls of your spine are slowly closing in on your spinal cord. If left untreated, the walls will eventually crush in on the cord making the section practically useless while causing enormous amounts of pain.
Watch video(s) to learn more about Spinal Stenosis.
Spinal Stenosis may also be known as Lumbar Stenosis, Cervical Stenosis, Central Spine Stenosis, Neurogenic Claudication.
Symptoms of Spinal Stenosis
Pain associated with spinal stenosis is most commonly caused by the restriction of nerves as the spinal canal narrows. Symptoms of both cervical and lumbar spinal stenosis generally include:
- Moderate to severe pain in the back or neck.
- Pain gets worse when doing activities (walking, running).
- Pain is relieved when resting (sitting, lying down).
- Tingling or numbness in the leg
- Tingling, weakness that radiates from the lower back into the buttocks and legs.
- Tingling, weakness that radiates from the neck into the shoulder and arms.
- Muscle weakness.
- Headaches and dizziness.
- Difficulty controlling bladder or bowel movements
Spinal Stenosis Causes
Spinal stenosis is most commonly caused by the degeneration of the spine. As you grow older, your spine suffers wear and tear damage from osteoarthritis and may start a formation of bone spurs that grow and narrow the spinal passage causing the nerves to pinch.
Other causes of spinal stenosis could include:
- Wear and tear from aging, typically starting over the age of 50.
- In rare cases, spinal stenosis may occur in younger adults as a result of a spinal injury.
- In rare cases, spinal stenosis may occur in younger adults with a curvature of the spine.
Spinal Stenosis Treatments
It is recommended that non surgical spinal stenosis treatment should initially be attempted for 6-8 weeks before surgery is considered an option. Treating the condition that is causing the stenosis in the spine through conservative methods has high rates of success.
The following treatments can be used to treat the different severities of spinal stenosis:
- Ice Packs
- Non steroidal, anti-inflammatory drugs help to relieve inflammation