Spinal Stenosis and Your Spine
At Texas Neurosurgery we treat many patients for issues that all originate when the space in the spinal canal or where the nerve roots exit the spine shrinks. This is known as spinal stenosis. We generally see either lumbar (in the lower back) stenosis affecting the lower back, buttocks, and legs or cervical (in the neck) stenosis affecting the neck, shoulders, and arms.
Here’s some more on this condition that usually leads to chronic pain.
What causes spinal stenosis?
This is usually a problem for older people. That’s because over a lifetime we’ve placed a lot of stress on our bodies and it takes a toll. This is known as osteoarthritis, colloquially known as “wear and tear” arthritis. Osteoarthritis has little in common with the immune system attacking rheumatoid arthritis. Osteoarthritis causes spinal discs to degenerate and bone spurs to form as bones rub together. Bone spurs make the spinal canal smaller, and they begin to press on the spinal cord or the nerve roots exiting the spinal column.
This creates symptoms that are similar to those when a patient has a herniated disc. But the pressure isn’t as localized because it’s not a single disc that is the cause.
What are the symptoms of stenosis?
Patients with spinal stenosis may experience cramping, pain, and numbness in the legs, back, neck, shoulders, or arms. A loss of sensation, loss of balance and bladder control may also occur. Over time, the nerve compression can lead to loss of strength an function in the arms and legs.
How is stenosis treated?
Your treatment depends on the severity of your pain and the duration. Long-term compression can cause permanent loss of function, so that’s always a concern. But in most cases, conservative, non-invasive methods can be effective. These could involve:
- Physical therapy
- Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs
- Back brace
Surgery may be required to open the spinal canal to stop the compression. These procedures could be:
- Decompressive laminectomy
If you have chronic pain in your lower back, buttocks, and legs or out into your shoulders and arms, you could have the nerve compression of stenosis. Call the experts at Texas Neurosurgery, (214) 823-2052, and let’s check it out.