Spinal Stenosis: Causes, Symptoms & Treatments in Wyomissing, CT
The spinal cord is comprised of nerve roots and vessels that pass through the spinal canal formed by the vertebrae. While spinal stenosis can occur anywhere in the spine, it is most commonly seen in the lower back or lumbar area. This narrowing of the spinal canal can lead to pressure on the spinal cord or the nerves that connect to the muscles.
Someone with lumbar spinal stenosis experiences difficulty walking long distances or needs to lean forward to alleviate pressure on their lower back. They may also have numbness or pain in their legs, and in severe instances, they struggle with controlling their bladder and bowel movements. Our team at NJ Spine & Orthopedic can help you determine the best course of treatment for your spinal stenosis.
Causes of Spinal Stenosis
Some individuals are born with congenital stenosis. However, spinal canal narrowing usually occurs due to age-related changes and is more prevalent in women over 50. Some other forms of lumbar spinal stenosis are known as acquired spinal stenosis and occur over time.
A common cause of this condition is osteoarthritis, which results from the progressive wear and tear of joints over time. Other conditions or circumstances that can lead to spinal stenosis include:
- Degenerative spondylosis and other acquired conditions like space-occupying lesions, post-surgical fibrosis, and rheumatologic conditions.
- Skeletal diseases, such as scoliosis, and congenital causes like achondroplasia, can also lead to spinal stenosis.
- Degenerative spondylolisthesis, a condition in which the spine undergoes degenerative changes
- An anterior slippage of one vertebra on top of the next segment can narrow the spinal canal and result in stenosis
Disc bulging, thickening of the vertebral ligament, spinal tumors, and bone disorders like Paget’s disease can all also contribute to spinal stenosis.
Symptoms of Spinal Stenosis
Symptoms develop and progress gradually, depending on where the narrowing is within the spine. Along with lower back pain, sufferers may experience a burning sensation or an ache that travels down their buttocks and into their legs. This pain often worsens with standing or walking but often improves when leaning forward.
If the spinal stenosis is in the lower back, you may have numbness, tingling, or cramping in your legs and feet. If you develop the disorder in your neck, you may also experience neck pain, numbness, or tingling that goes down your arms and into your hands, including weakness in your hand, arm, or fingers.
Spinal Stenosis Diagnosis Process
If you suspect you have lumbar spinal stenosis, our surgeons will ask questions about your symptoms and perform a series of tests to look for loss of sensation, weakness, and abnormal reflexes. Your doctor will also evaluate your range of motion and check for pain or discomfort when you hyper-extend the spine in different ways.
MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) may be used for picturing the soft tissues such as the spine’s discs, nerve roots, and ligaments. A CT scan is another diagnostic tool that can detect problems with the spinal canal and surrounding tissues. It’s especially useful for looking at the bony parts of the back to detect fractures or changes from osteoarthritis.
Treatments for Spinal Stenosis
Spinal stenosis can be treated using non-surgical treatments like physical therapy to help maintain spine motion and strengthen abdominal and back muscles for greater spine stability. Patients with weak abdominal muscles or older individuals must wear a brace to help them regain mobility. Alternative treatments, such as spinal manipulation and acupuncture, may also be ideal for relieving pain. Anti-inflammatory medications or numbing injections can help manage acute pain and inflammation.
Surgery may be recommended if non-surgical treatments and medications fail to alleviate pain and symptoms persist. Surgeons can perform a laminectomy, spinal fusion, and minimally invasive surgery (MIS) to relieve pressure on the spinal cord and restore spine alignment and health.
A laminectomy involves removing bony spurs and bone walls of the vertebrae to open up the spinal column and relieve pressure on the nerves. Spinal fusion involves joining two or more vertebrae in the spine that have slipped from their normal positions. MIS is a less invasive type of surgery that causes reduced scarring and damage to nearby muscles and tissues. It can lead to less pain and faster recovery after surgery.
Contact Spinal Stenosis Specialists at NJ Spine & Orthopedic in Wyomissing, CT Today
Surgery can effectively decrease symptoms by creating more space inside the spine while easing pressure on the spinal cord or nerves. If left untreated, spinal stenosis can lead to permanent disability, resulting in paralysis or severe weakness that hinders one’s ability to stand and move normally.
Our NJ Spine & Orthopedic surgeons are available to perform the necessary surgeries, provide interventional spinal care, and develop a recovery protocol that fits your needs. If you’re experiencing any of the symptoms discussed, call (866) 553-0612 or fill out our online contact form to schedule an initial consultation.