The Patient’s Guide to Spinal Stenosis

Spinal stenosis is a condition that causes a narrowing of the spinal canal. Back pain may occur as the spinal cord is impinged upon by the surrounding bone. A variety of effective treatments ranging from physical therapy to spinal surgery are available to lessen back pain and restore quality of life.

Causes of Spinal Stenosis

Arthritis of the spine is the most frequent cause of spinal stenosis. As you age, the discs that cushion the vertebrae of your spine begin to dry out and degenerate. This causes a settling, or compressing, of the spine. When this occurs, pressure on the facet joints between the vertebrae increases and the space through which your spinal cord travels becomes narrower. Bone growth in response to arthritic joints in the spine may cause further narrowing of the spinal canal.

Symptoms of Spinal Stenosis

Although many individuals suffering from spinal stenosis experience back pain, others do not. Additional symptoms of this condition include sciatica, which is a painful or burning sensation in the legs or buttocks. You may also experience tingling or numbness in the buttocks and legs or weakness in the legs and feet. The pain experienced by those with spinal stenosis is often reduced with sitting or leaning forward. You may feel more pain or experience weakness when you stand or walk, especially for extended distances.

Treatments for Spinal Stenosis

Effective pain relief may be achieved through physical therapy or medication such as steroid injections or anti-inflammatory drugs. Other non-surgical options for spinal stenosis pain relief include acupuncture and chiropractic adjustment to promote healing and increase strength. Your doctor may suggest spinal surgery if other treatments fail to address your condition. A surgeon can perform either a laminectomy to remove excess bone or a spinal fusion to promote spinal stability.

You can get all the answers to your spinal stenosis questions by scheduling an appointment at The Center for Musculoskeletal Disorders.


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