• Finding Relief from Spinal Stenosis

    on Jul 26th, 2017

There are few things worse than consistent neck or back pain. In fact, lower back pain is the leading cause of disability and missed work days in the world. The difficulty when it comes to pain related to the spine is that there can be so many different causes, each with overlapping symptoms. It’s not a surprise to anyone with chronic back pain that it’s especially difficult to diagnose the root cause of it.

That’s not to say it’s always a process of trial and error when it comes to diagnosing a specific ailment that is affecting your spine. Some of them, however, are fairly straightforward in diagnosis with the use of imaging testing and an evaluation of medical history. One such common condition that particularly affects people as they get older is spinal stenosis. Spinal stenosis is progressive and can cause more troubling symptoms as time goes on. If you’ve been experiencing more discomfort in your neck and back along with some neurological issues like numbness, you need to see a neurologist for a proper diagnosis so you can begin treatment as soon as possible. Here are some of the symptoms of spinal stenosis, the different types, and how it can be treated.


What are the symptoms of spinal stenosis?

Spinal stenosis is a progressive narrowing of the spine. As the spinal canal narrows, this puts pressure on the many nerves that travel through the spine and can lead to a variety of symptoms beyond the pain and discomfort you can imagine this would cause. Some of the common symptoms of spinal stenosis include localized pain where the spinal column has primarily narrowed, radiating pain into the arms or legs, burning and weakness in extremities, numbness in extremities, loss of sensation, abnormal reflexes, a change in gait, and imbalance.

Some people find that shifting their position, particularly by leaning forward while sitting, may temporarily relieve some of their symptoms because of the widening of the spinal column produced by this positioning. The pressure on the nerves also lessens.


How can you get it?

It’s believed that about 8-11% of Americans suffer with spinal stenosis. It is generally something that develops with age and older people are more likely to develop it. Aging and accompanying changes in the body are the biggest cause. The spine joints become thicker and ligaments become stiffer, which doesn’t allow for as much range of motion. Also, as arthritis progresses with age, so too can the chances of developing spinal stenosis. Gradual compression of the discs and degenerative disc disease can also cause a narrowing of the spinal column. Bone spurs in the spine can also be a cause. In rare instances, spinal stenosis can also be the result of a traumatic injury or the growth of a tumor in the area.


Are there different types?

Spinal stenosis can occur in different parts of the spine, which can produce different symptoms. The higher up the stenosis occurs, the higher the chance of neurological symptoms being present and more severe. There are three main types of spinal stenosis. The first is cervical spinal stenosis. The narrowing of the spinal column occurs in the neck. The highest risks are associated with cervical because of the location and the danger of paralysis. Second is lumbar spinal stenosis which affects the lower back and can radiate into the buttocks and legs. Then there is thoracic spinal stenosis which affects the middle back and is much less common than the other two types.


What are the treatment options available?

Treatment varies depending on the person, the location of the stenosis, and how it has progressed. Mild cases respond well to oral medications that are anti-inflammatory. They are sometimes combined with steroid injections in the area to help combat the inflammation. Physical therapy can improve circulation and provide relief. Typically, treatment remains conservative, but that doesn’t help in every case. If these measures aren’t producing results, surgery may be recommended. The spinal column will be expanded and a portion of the vertebrae will be removed. Spinal fusion will be used to stabilize the area.


Conclusion

Spinal stenosis can have a tremendous impact on the quality of your life depending on where it is located and the severity of the condition. While pain and discomfort are problematic enough, neurological symptoms like numbness, loss of balance or control, and even paralysis are incredibly serious. If you’ve been experiencing pain and other troubling symptoms that point to an issue in your spine, you need to seek professional care from the experts equipped to deal with these delicate conditions. Book an appointment online with us today to set up a consultation. The team at Acadiana Neurosurgery has the expertise necessary to provide you with the spinal stenosis treatment and care you need so you can get your life back.

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