Most people who are diagnosed with spinal stenosis have many questions about the condition. It is natural and understandable especially for those who have not experienced back pain before. If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with spinal stenosis, chances are you have started to do some research about the condition and the road ahead. This blog post covers the basics of spinal stenosis, including its causes, symptoms and treatment options. But first, let’s start with some groundwork.

What is Spinal Stenosis?

The spine is made up of a series of vertebrae stacked on top of each other and normally there is plenty of room for the spinal cord as well as the spinal nerves. Spinal stenosis is a condition in which the spinal canal narrows down minimizing the space available for the spinal cord and spinal nerves causing compression. Spinal stenosis commonly occurs in the lumbar and cervical spine.

Causes of Spinal Stenosis

In many cases, the root cause of spinal stenosis is another underlying spine problem, such as herniated disks and bone overgrowth. In other cases, the cause can be ageing. As a person gets older, they become more susceptible to thickened ligaments and misaligned disks. In fact, spinal stenosis is most common among people 50 years and above. In some cases, a spinal injury following an accident or trauma can dislocate one or more vertebrae, which damages the spinal canal, causing spinal stenosis. An MRI of the spine can establish the exact cause of the problem.

Common Symptoms

The symptoms of spinal stenosis may vary based on the location of the stenosis. If it is in the cervical spine, a patient may experience the following symptoms:

● Tingling and numbness in hands and legs
● Weakness in hands and legs
● Neck pain
● Difficulty walking or maintaining balance
● Urinary incontinence
● Bowel dysfunction

If the spinal stenosis is located in the lumbar spine, individuals may experience the following symptoms:

● Tingling or numbness in leg or foot
● Weakness in foot or leg
● Back pain
● Pain or cramping in one or both legs after standing for a long time or while walking

Some people also face problems with dropping objects, difficulty picking things up, and difficulty buttoning.

Spinal Stenosis Treatment Options

Treatment for spinal stenosis is contingent on the severity of symptoms. For mild to moderate symptoms, physicians usually advise some home care tips. If that doesn't help, the patient may be graduated to physical therapy or medications. Surgery is usually the last option when all other treatment options fail to provide the desired results.

Medications

Individuals with spinal stenosis are typically prescribed pain relievers to ease pain and discomfort. Steroid injections can also be included in the treatment to reduce the inflammation and relieve back pain.

Physical Therapy

Sometimes, spinal stenosis patients may need to visit a physical therapist to help construct a therapy regime to help with stenosis. The workouts are designed to improve and maintain spine flexibility and stability, build up spinal strength, and improve balance and functions.

Surgical Intervention

Surgery is usually only recommended to patients who have tried every other treatment option with little to no results. Surgery could be an option in situations where the condition has a disabling effect on patients, and it continues to interfere with their daily activities. The primary goal of surgery in spinal stenosis is to relieve the built-up pressure on the nerve roots or spinal cord by decompressing the affected areas.

Wrap Up

Spinal stenosis is a degenerative spinal condition that typically progresses gradually. If you or someone you know has been experiencing any of the symptoms we have discussed, book an appointment with s spine surgeon for diagnosis and treatment. To find an experienced spine specialist in your area, simply contact a physician referral center. Both surgical and non-surgical treatment of spinal stenosis are available in Plano, Texas.

Author's Bio: 

Texas Health Spine & Orthopedic Center is a referral center that helps connect consumers with the spine and orthopedic physicians most appropriate for their injury or illness.