FAQ’s on Spinal Stenosis

What is Spinal Stenosis?

There are a number of individuals who suffer from a condition known as spinal stenosis, with only a few who realize the seriousness of the condition as it begins to develop Symptoms of Pain. Spinal stenosis is a narrowing of the spinal canal, which houses the spinal cord of the body. When this narrows, it can put excess pressure on the spinal cord. This can potentially result in arthritic inflammation through those bones grinding against one another, and may also result in the compression of one or more spinal nerves.

There are two types of spinal stenosis: stenosis of the lumbar spine and cervical stenosis. Although lumbar spinal stenosis may be the more painful condition of the two, cervical stenosis is more dangerous since its progression can lead to interruption to several body functions below the neck.

Who can develop Spinal Stenosis?

It is possible for an individual to be born with spinal stenosis. This condition is known as congenital stenosis. The individual may beunaware of the condition which subsequently goes unchecked for many years. The second method of contracting spinal stenosis is referred to as acquired stenosis, and is very common among individuals aged 50 years and above. This is because of the degenerative effects of aging. Individuals who suffer from neck or back injuries may also develop acquired spinal stenosis.

Causes of Spinal Stenosis

There are several known causes of spinal stenosis; with one of the most common cause is genetic predisposition, also known as hereditary factors. The following are other causes of Spinal stenosis:

  • Thickening of the spinal ligaments, which may cause them to extend through the open space of the spinal canal and put pressure on the spinal cord or on a spinal nerve.
  • Abnormal growth of tissues known as tumors inside the spine that can put pressure on the spinal cord or a spinal nerve.
  • Wear and tear of the bone tissues in the spine, potentially leading to arthritic inflammation and the formation of bone spurs which may compress the spinal cord and or nerves
  • Injuries to the spine causing dislocations and fractures, potentially resulting in pieces of bone pressuring on the spinal cord.

Symptoms of Spinal Stenosis

The usual symptom felt by patients suffering from spinal stenosis is pain either in the neck or in the lower back portion that is focused on the area of pressure. The severity of the pain may range from mild to severe and may progressively worsen over time. Other symptoms that may be present if a nerve is compressed include numbness or tingling sensation of the legs or arms, weakness, cramping and discomfort when bending.

Individuals who experience progressing pain or symptoms that do not disappear should immediately seek medical consultation for prompt treatment.

Treatments for Spinal Stenosis

Treatment for spinal stenosis may involve both medical and surgical approaches depending on the severity of the condition and the location of the stenosis. The medical team will come up with an effective treatment after the disorder is diagnosed through physical assessment and diagnostic tests that includes X-ray, MRI and CT scan.

Physicians usually prescribe medications such as NSAID’s and other Pain relievers to alleviate pain and reduce inflammation. Muscle relaxants may also be prescribed to prevent muscle spasms which may cause more pain or create further injury. In severe cases, steroids may also be injected into the constricted spaces to prevent inflammation. Physical therapies may also be conducted to help maintain bone flexibility and promote strengthening of the spine.

If no improvements are observed after medical treatments, a surgical procedure may be performed. The surgical operation may help reduce the symptoms but in some cases, the condition was not treated and progressed.

There is no known exact cure for Spinal stenosis. The progression of the symptoms can be prevented through lifestyle modifications however, as well as through medical intervention.