Spinal stenosis is the narrowing of spaces within the spine. Stenosis reduces the space nerves have to move through the spinal canal and can cause nerve root or spinal cord compression over time. The condition most commonly occurs in the neck and low back. There are two primary types of spinal stenosis:
It’s possible to have both types of stenosis at the same time, and it’s possible to have stenosis in different areas of the spine at the same time. Minimal narrowing may not cause any pain or symptoms, but as the condition progresses, the resulting nerve compression can lead to significant pain, symptoms and weakening. Unfortunately, spinal narrowing cannot be reversed.
Spinal stenosis occurs when age-related changes cause something to narrow the open spaces within the spine. Contributing factors can include:
Because degenerative spinal changes are the most common reason for stenosis, age is the primary risk factor for developing this condition. Additionally, some people are born with a naturally small spinal canal or a congenital deformity like scoliosis that causes spinal stenosis to develop.
Some people with spinal stenosis experience no pain or symptoms. Others experience symptoms that start slowly and worsen over time. Symptoms vary depending on the location of narrowing. You may have:
People with lumbar spinal stenosis often have worsening symptoms like leg pain, cramping and sciatica with long periods of standing or walking. Upright positions place more pressure and stress on the spine. Stenosis pain is usually relieved by sitting and leaning forward, movements that take pressure off the spine and open space for the nerves to move more freely.
Spinal stenosis cannot be reversed. The goal of treatment is to reduce pain and symptoms and help you maintain as much movement and flexibility as possible. If you aren’t experiencing any symptoms, or if your symptoms aren’t severe enough that they affect your daily life, your doctor will start by prescribing at-home care and conservative treatment measures. Treatments may include:
For many people with spinal stenosis, it’s tempting to become inactive when standing and walking causes significant pain. However, remaining active is crucial to managing your condition and preventing muscle weakness and debilitation. Without regular exercise, stenosis gradually weakens the muscles in your legs. Exercises like forward-leaning stationary bicycling or swimming can help you stay active.
Surgery is a treatment option if you’re experiencing progressive pain, weakness and numbness that’s affecting your ability to perform daily activities. Decompression surgeries aim to relieve pressure on the spinal cord and nerves and create more space in the spine for nerves to move and function freely. There are several types of decompression procedures and your doctor will talk you through the procedure that’s best for your situation.
At Integrity Spine and Orthopedics, we specialize in identifying, diagnosing and treating a wide range of acute and chronic back, spine and joint conditions. Our board-certified orthopedic surgeons specialize in performing minimally invasive spine surgeries to reduce pain and improve mobility for patients diagnosed with spinal arthritis, degenerative disc disease, bulging or herniated discs, a pinched nerve, spinal stenosis and more.
Some of the primary benefits of minimally invasive surgery include:
If you’re experiencing back or joint pain, weakness, or a loss of mobility, reach out to us today to schedule a consultation with our team. We provide compassionate and comprehensive care to help you find relief from pain and get back to doing the activities you love.
Call us at 904-456-0017 or contact us online to request an appointment.