The bones in your spine play many important roles. In addition to providing your body with support, flexibility and mobility, they also link together to form passageways for nerves traveling from the brain to every other part of your body. Each of these bones (or vertebrae) has an opening in the center, and when these bones line up, the openings provide a protective channel for the nerves that pass through them.
In a healthy spine, these openings provide ample room for the nerves to pass without crowding or impingement. But sometimes, these openings become narrow and the nerves can become compressed and irritated. One of the most common causes for this type of nerve compression is a condition called spinal stenosis. According to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, spinal stenosis currently affects more than 1.2 million adults in the U.S. and is expected double to by 2020.
1. What causes spinal stenosis?
Most cases of spinal stenosis develop as a result of wear and tear on the spine, specifically the joints between each pair of bones. Over time, the vertebrae can develop tiny hard growths called bone spurs that can press on the nerves and cause the canal to become narrow, or the vertebrae themselves may become compressed. Less commonly, back or neck injuries, tumors or thickened spinal ligaments can cause painful nerve compression.
2. What are the symptoms of spinal stenosis?
The most common symptom of spinal stenosis is pain or aching in the neck or lower back, areas where the spine is most flexible. Depending on where stenosis is occurring, symptoms like numbness, tingling or weakness may also occur in the shoulders, arms, legs, hands or feet. Over time, patients may experience a loss of coordination in the lower limbs that can interfere with balance. In severe cases, bowel and bladder function can also be affected.
Are you experiencing any of these symptoms? Check out our Pain Assessment Tool to receive a preliminary diagnosis.
3. How is spinal stenosis treated?
In the very early stages of spinal stenosis, painful symptoms may be relieved with pain medications like nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs or corticosteroid injections, combined with physical therapy to improve mobility. However, when these approaches do not provide long-term relief, surgery may be recommended to relieve nerve compression and the painful symptoms it can cause. The type of surgery will depend on the underlying cause of the symptoms, but in most cases, surgery can be completed using a minimally invasive approach that relies on very small incisions. Minimally invasive spine surgery is designed to correct underlying spine-related issues with very minimal damage to the surrounding soft tissues so patients can enjoy a faster, more comfortable recovery.
Let Southern Laser Spine help.
Don’t let the painful symptoms of spinal stenosis take a toll on your quality of life. Today’s minimally invasive spine surgery options can be an ideal solution for men and women with moderate to severe spinal stenosis, offering relief from painful symptoms as well as a quick return to greater mobility. To find out more about spinal stenosis and the best treatment option for your needs, call Southern Laser Spine at 305-901-1268 and schedule your free phone evaluation and consultation today.