Five in every thousand adults above the age of 50 exhibit the symptoms of spinal stenosis. Currently, there are 70 million Americans who are above the age of 50 and by the next decade, the number will increase by 18 million. These statistics point towards the necessity of understanding what spinal stenosis is as well as the available treatment options. In this blog post, we answer the all-important question - 'What is Spinal Stenosis?' Read on.

Overview

The spinal cord is one of the most vital parts of the body as it regulates many important tasks such as walking, reflexes, and nerve communication. Many nerves pass through the spinal cord and help in making movement possible. When you are affected with spinal stenosis, the space within your spinal canal is narrowed. When this happens, the nerves traveling through the spine can become compressed and subject to pressure. This condition is most prevalent in the lower back and regions around the neck. Identifying this condition is tricky; while few people experience symptoms such as pain, tingling, muscle weakness, or numbing, others may not experience any symptoms at all. This condition is most often due to wear-and-tear in your spinal cord related to osteoarthritis. There are two types of spinal stenosis—Cervical Stenosis and Lumbar Stenosis. In cervical stenosis, narrowing occurs in the spinal cord at the neck area and in lumbar stenosis, narrowing occurs in the spinal cord in the lower back area.

Common Causes of Spinal Stenosis

● Wear and tear of the vertebra from osteoarthritis

● Herniated discs

● Thickened ligaments that bulge into your spinal canal

● Abnormal growth of tumors inside your spinal cord

● Accidents and injuries of spinal cord

Treatment Options

To diagnose spinal stenosis, doctors generally ask a few questions about the signs and symptoms your are experiencing. A physical examination is also conducted to understand your condition better. Tests like X-rays, MRI Scans, or CT-Scans are commonly prescribed. Once the location of the stenosis is determined, the treatment will depend on the severity of the symptoms and pain. Both surgical and non-surgical treatments of spinal stenosis are available. If you're experiencing mild symptoms and in the initial stages of stenosis, the doctor may prescribe pain relievers, antidepressants, physical therapy, or steroid injections. However, in the event of a chronic case of spinal stenosis or when these non-surgical treatments don't prove to be effective, surgery may be recommended.

In spinal stenosis surgery, additional space is created within the spinal cord to relieve the pressure on the spinal cord and nerve roots. There are some minimally invasive surgical options available for spinal stenosis treatment.

When to See a Specialist

If you are experiencing the following symptoms, it is highly advisable to schedule an appointment with a specialist to get a proper diagnosis and the best spinal stenosis treatment.

1. Numbness or tingling in the hand, arm, foot, or leg.

2. Weakness in the hand, arm, foot, or leg.

3. Difficulty in walking and maintaining balance.

4. Cramping or pain in the legs upon standing or walking for long periods of time.

5. Severe and continued pain in the neck or back.

Wrap Up

If your primary care doctor suspects you may have spinal stenosis, they may refer you to a neurologist, neurosurgeon, or orthopedic surgeon based on the severity of the symptoms. For a general consultation, surgical or non-surgical treatment of spinal stenosis, you can find experienced doctors with the help of a trusted doctor referral center in Plano and other locations in Texas.

Author's Bio: 

Texas Health Spine & Orthopedic Center is a well-known healthcare center in Texas that helps connect patients with participating Spine surgeons that are most appropriate for their condition, injury, or illness.