Spinal Stenosis refers to the medical condition which leads to the narrowing of the spaces inside the spine. People with spinal stenosis often do not realise they have the condition and mistake it for back pain. Prolonging the condition can lead to chronic backaches which may require surgical intervention. Let us deep dive to understand more about the condition and how you can manage the pain. Please note that this blog is for informational purposes only and cannot replace the importance of a doctor’s consultation.
Spinal stenosis is the narrowing of one or more spaces within the spine which reduces the space available for the spinal cord and nerves. A tightened space irritates the spinal cord and nerves which can lead to back pain and sciatica. Most people who encounter spinal stenosis, fall in the age bracket of 50 years and above. However, some people born with a narrow spinal canal are also at an increased risk of spinal stenosis.
Spinal stenosis compresses the spinal cord and nerve roots exiting the vertebrae. The symptoms can either occur gradually over time or due to wear and tear. This is why most patients with spinal stenosis symptoms may not feel any pain for a long time.
Spinal stenosis can occur anywhere along the spine but is most often felt along the lower back (lumbar canal stenosis) and neck (cervical spinal stenosis). Depending on the severity and area of the stenosis, you are likely to experience pain, numbing or tingling sensation, and weakness in the neck, back, arms, legs, hands or feet.
There are several causes which can lead to spinal stenosis. While congenital factors also contribute to the progression of the disease, the primary reason for spinal stenosis involves the narrowing of space around the spinal cord. Additionally, doctors also associate different factors which contribute to the spinal stenosis causes. These mostly include -
Spinal stenosis diagnosis involves a combination of physical examination and symptom analysis. The doctor will feel your spine and press the areas to check for pain and discomfort. Furthermore, the doctor may recommend diagnostic tests which can determine the exact location, type and extent of the problem. Imagines tests such as x-rays, MRI, and CT myelogram can help the doctor generate 3-D images of the spine to pinpoint the epicentre of pain.
The choice of spinal stenosis treatment varies depending on the type and area of the condition. In case of mild to moderate symptoms, the doctor may suggest OTC medications and home remedies manage the pain. You can also try applying heat to manage pain due to osteoarthritis. Heat increases blood flow and helps the muscles relax. Minimal exercises can also help relieve stress and strengthen muscles to support the spine and improve flexibility and balance.
Other options for spinal stenosis treatment include medications such as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications (NSAIDs) to help relieve inflammation and provide relief from pain due to spinal stenosis. However, it is important to discuss your medical condition with the doctor to avoid allergies and complications due to certain medications. The doctor may also recommend physical therapy, steroid injections, and decompression procedures to treat spinal stenosis.
Surgical options for spinal stenosis involve outpatient procedures, also known as percutaneous image-guided lumbar decompression (PILD) which is performed through a tiny incision. Spinal stenosis surgery is done when all other methods are ineffective against the condition. The surgeon uses special medical instruments which can reduce the chances of complications and ensure a faster recovery.
Spinal stenosis develops slowly over time but can cause harmful effects. It is important to be aware of the symptoms to undergo early diagnosis and effective treatment. The condition becomes difficult to recognise since it can mimic other medical disorders. The doctor may recommend conservative treatment methods or suggest surgery for long-term health benefits. Most people who undergo spinal stenosis surgery live a better quality of life with reduced pain and improved body functionality.
Yes, depending on the medical health of the individual and the severity of the condition, there may be rare chances of risks associated with spinal stenosis surgery. Possible risks from the surgery include -
Several medical disorders can mimic spinal stenosis due to the intensity of the symptoms and area of pain. Medical issues like -
What are the surgical options for spinal stenosis treatment?
Spinal stenosis surgery includes the following methods -
Whom should I consult for my spinal stenosis symptoms?
In case you are experiencing spinal stenosis symptoms, get in touch with a neurologist. A neurologist specialises in diagnosing and treating conditions related to the brain.