Stenosis of the spine is a condition where open spaces in the spine become narrowed, leading to pressure on the spinal cord and adjacent nerves. Though it can be caused by injury, stenosis is commonly associated with aging, with those over 50 at the greatest risk. Stenosis can cause localized pain (usually in the neck, mid-back or the lower back), but it can also lead to numbness, feelings of weakness, and tingling in the extremities. Compressed nerves or spinal cord in the lumbar spine can generate leg cramps and pain when standing or walking. It all depends on the location of the affected vertebrae, and which nerves connect to that part of the spine. Are you suffering from spinal stenosis? Read on to learn more about treatment options.
Nonsurgical Treatment Options
If stenosis is not yet severe and it is properly diagnosed early, you may be able to use various nonsurgical treatments to relieve pain caused by stenosis. Over-the-counter pain relievers can provide relief for mild pain, but for more intense pain it makes sense to work closely with an experienced physician to manage pain. Different prescription medications are sometimes used to manage stenosis pain, but this must be done carefully and only under the advice of a doctor.
Physical therapy can help to build core strength, improve balance, and stabilize the spine. A trained physical therapist can help develop a plan that will help expand your mobility without exacerbating the condition. Low-impact exercise plans involving swimming or cycling on an exercise bike may be recommended as aerobic activities that do not stress the spine. In some cases, a brace may be used to provide additional spine support and help maintain proper form.
Last, steroid or regenerative therapy injections can also be used to help reduce swelling and pain around the nerve roots. These are typically only a temporary fix, and must be done only after you have obtained an accurate diagnosis for your stenosis.
Surgical Treatment Options
When nonsurgical treatments have been insufficient to deal with spinal stenosis pain, surgery is the likely next step. Fortunately, this no longer means an intense open-back surgery with a lengthy recovery. Minimally invasive spine surgery procedures can reduce pain from spinal stenosis with only a small incision, and can be performed on an outpatient basis. For example a laminectomy can reduce the pressure on the spinal cord by removing a portion of lamina (the back portion of the vertebra) in the affected area. Foraminotomy (shaving of the foramen), facetectomy (shaving of the facet joint), discectomy (removal of herniated disc) are also done if necessary to relieve pressure of the peripheral nerves and the spinal cord. Typically the various types of surgeries that treat spine stenosis fall under general term of “decompression surgery”. Successful surgery can help restore the proper alignment of the spine and relieve pain from stenosis. Occasionally minimally invasive decompression surgery that treats spinal stenosis must be accompanied with minimally invasive fusion or nerve excision.
Spinal stenosis is a degenerative condition, and if left untreated, the pain it causes will only become worse. If you are experiencing chronic back pain, don’t let it take away your quality of life. Call the Spine Institute Northwest today at 888-712-0318 to take the first step toward getting back your life with an accurate diagnosis.