Spinal Stenosis: Causes, Symptoms & Treatments in Philadelphia
Spinal stenosis is a condition that causes narrowing of your spine, typically due to age. In older adults, it tends to be a common condition. It’s important that you receive timely treatment if you suspect spinal stenosis since it often gets worse over time.
This narrowing that spinal stenosis causes leaves less room for your spinal nerves and cord. Spinal discs, bone spurs, and joints can press on your spinal cord or nerves and lead to weakness, pain, and other symptoms. It’s essential that if you believe you may be suffering from this condition, you call a professional Philadelphia spine surgeon right away. Our team at NJ Spine & Orthopedic can evaluate your medical records to help determine the best course of treatment for your spinal stenosis.
Symptoms of Spinal Stenosis
Some individuals with lumbar and cervical spinal stenosis don’t experience any symptoms. They find out they have the condition coincidentally, from medical imaging like X-rays. However, individuals with symptomatic stenosis often report symptoms of:
- Persistent pain: They may experience pain in the neck, back, buttocks, or even in their feet and legs.
- Hot or cold sensation or pins-and-needles: Poor nerve conductivity can cause these feelings.
- Loss of motor control in the feet or legs: When this occurs, it can lead to frequent tripping or limping, which also leads to a decline in physical activity.
As time goes on, the nerve compression can lead to even more debilitating symptoms, such as:
- Changes in posture: Some individuals with spinal stenosis walk slightly bent over.
- Muscle atrophy: Individuals who suffer from nerve compression won’t move their limbs as often, which can lead to a decline in muscle tone.
- Bladder and bowel incontinence: Lumbar region nerve compression can lead to a severe condition known as cauda equina syndrome, which is where an individual may lose control of their bowels.
Spinal stenosis can also cause symptoms that are specific to the injury location. For example:
This often causes spasms, pain, and weakness in the buttocks and legs, generally after standing and walking. It can cause sexual dysfunction and lead to bladder and bowel issues.
This condition doesn’t just cause neck pain and spasms, but it can also cause weakness or numbness in the legs or arms that disrupt walking and balance. With severe stenosis, it’s possible for individuals to experience bowel or bladder function problems.
This condition mainly impacts the lower parts of your body, frequently leading to weakness and numbness in your leg or foot, especially after you stand for prolonged periods of time. Individuals with lumbar stenosis can also have pain in their lower back.
Common Causes of Spinal Stenosis
Typically, spinal stenosis is due to one or more of the following factors:
Degenerative Disc Disease
When you have discs that lose hydration and begin to flatten, it can lead to the narrowing of your intervertebral foramina. You can also end up with a disc bulge that begins to push into your spinal canal. Disc degeneration may additionally place more pressure on your facet joints, accelerating their degeneration as well.
When smooth facet joint cartilage begins to break down, it causes your bones to begin rubbing against one another, potentially leading to osteophytes or bone spurs. These are the formation of irregular bone growths. The inflammation and formation of bone can contribute to spinal stenosis.
Ligament Buckling or Thickening
Spinal canal ligaments can become thick and turn into bony tissue. They may then intrude upon your spinal cord or surrounding spinal nerves. With the progression of spinal degeneration, certain ligaments can also become more prone to buckling into your spinal canal.
Treatment Options for Spinal Stenosis
Treatment options consist of non-surgical and surgical approaches.
Spinal specialists will first attempt non-surgical approaches to alleviate your symptoms of spinal stenosis, including:
- Pain-relieving medications
- Physical therapy or stretching
- Spinal injections consisting of pain-easing medication that targets the precise location of your pain
Also, regular exercise may also be recommended to help strengthen your muscles.
Non-surgical approaches might not offer long-term relief if your spinal stenosis is due to degeneration. You may require surgery to address the source of weakness, pain, or numbness.
The primary types of spinal stenosis surgical procedures include:
Laminectomy or Laminotomy
These procedures help to create more space for your nerves. The surgeon will remove part (laminotomy) or all (laminectomy) of your lamina. They may perform it as a single procedure or combine it with other procedures.
This is a surgical procedure where two or more vertebrae are fused together permanently. Whenever possible, spine surgeons will use minimally invasive methods to perform fusions to help you experience less pain and heal faster.
In this surgery, the spinal surgeon removes a small part of the bone around the impacted nerve root in order to remove pressure. They may perform this procedure by itself or combine it with a discectomy or laminectomy.
Call the Philadelphia Spinal Stenosis Professionals at NJ Spine & Orthopedic Today
Our spine specialists at NJ Spine & Orthopedic serve the Philadelphia area and are committed to minimally invasive and conservative treatment options based on your individual needs. If needed, we also specialize in spinal stenosis surgery. We will work hard to ensure we provide you with the best treatment plan possible that’s customized for your individual symptoms.
Give our office a call at (866) 553-0612 or fill out our online form to schedule an appointment with an experienced spine specialist today.