Spinal Stenosis

Spinal stenosis is a back pain condition that is caused by the narrowing of the spinal canal. This narrowing typically occurs in the neck and lower back, putting pressure on the spinal cord and surrounding nerves within the spinal canal. According to the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases, spinal stenosis is most common in patients over the age of 50. However, it is still possible for younger patients to develop this condition from a pre-existing spinal injury. Treatment for spinal stenosis is dependent on the cause and severity of the condition. A pain management specialist at Southwest Spine and Pain Center may recommend a combination of conservative, alternative, and interventional therapies to help patients achieve adequate pain relief. Severe cases of spinal stenosis may require minimally invasive spinal surgery.

Spinal stenosis is typically caused by normal wear and tear to the body that occurs as we age. It is also possible for patients to develop spinal stenosis from a pre-existing condition or genetic defect, such as scoliosis or achondroplasia. Degenerative conditions are another culprit that can increase your risk of developing spinal stenosis. For example, patients who suffer from osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis have a much higher chance of acquiring this condition. Other ailments that can lead to spinal stenosis include tumors of the spine, trauma, Paget’s disease of bone, and ossification of the posterior longitudinal ligament. It’s imperative patients receive treatment for spinal stenosis to prevent the condition from worsening, causing slipped or herniated discs.

It is possible for patients with spinal stenosis to experience little to no symptoms. However, as the condition progresses, patients will likely develop radiating pain, numbness, and weakness in the upper or lower extremities, depending on the location of the patient’s spinal stenosis. For example, patients may experience radiating pain in the shoulders and arms if the narrowing occurs in the cervical spine (neck area). Pain, numbness, and weakness that develops in the lower extremities may indicate problems within the lumbar spine (low back). Severe cases of spinal stenosis may result in bladder or bowel dysfunctions, as well as changes in the patient’s gait. Your Southwest Spine and Pain Center physician will administer a number of diagnostic tests to determine the severity of your spinal stenosis.

As we mentioned previously, there are many treatment options and approaches for patients suffering from spinal stenosis. Conservative care may include rest, ice, and over-the-counter pain relievers. If these methods fail to provide adequate pain relief, interventional pain therapies may be recommended in the form of steroid injections, nerve blocks, a lumbar brace, and physical therapy. The only alternative to nonsurgical treatment is surgery, so a pain management physician may recommend minimally invasive procedures if more advanced care is required. Talk to your Southwest Spine and Pain Center provider to learn more about treatment options for spinal stenosis.