Some individuals with spinal stenosis may not exhibit symptoms. Others may encounter tingling, pain, numbness and muscle frailty. Symptoms can deteriorate over time.
Spinal stenosis is most frequently produced by wear-and-tear variations in the spine correlated with osteoarthritis. In critical instances of spinal stenosis, physicians may suggest procedures to create additional space for the nerves or spinal cord.
Kinds of spinal stenosis
The sorts of spinal stenosis are grouped according to the location on the spine where the condition occurs. Having more than one type is plausible. The two principal types of spinal stenosis are:
Cervical stenosis. In this infirmity, the narrowing happens in the portion of the spine in your neck.
Lumbar stenosis. In this condition, the abbreviation occurs in the section of the spine within your lower back. It’s the most prevalent form of spinal stenosis.
Many individuals have an indication of spinal stenosis on an MRI or CT scan but may not have symptoms. When they do occur, they often start slowly and worsen over time. Symptoms vary based on the location of the stenosis and which nerves are concerned.
In the neck (cervical spine)
Vulnerability in a hand, arm, foot or leg
Tingling or numbness in a foot, hand, arm or leg
Problems with keeping your balance and walking
In serious cases, bowel or bladder dysfunction (urinary urgency and incontinence)
Numbness or tingling in a leg or foot.
In the lower back (lumbar spine)
Weakness or lack of strength in a leg or foot
Cramping or pain in both or one of the legs when you are standing for long stretches of time or when you walk or run, which ordinarily relaxes when you lean or bend forward or sit
Pain in the back
See your physician if you have any of the signs or symptoms listed above.
Herniated disk with the additional bone spurs
Herniated disk and bone spurs on the spine
The backbone (spine) extends from your neck to your lower portion of your back. The bones of your spine develop a spinal canal, which guards your spinal cord (nerves).
Some people are born with a small spinal canal. But most spinal stenosis occurs when something happens to narrow the open space within the spine. Causes of spinal stenosis may include:
Herniated disks. The soft cushions that work as shock absorbers within your vertebrae have a propensity to dry out with age. Fissures in a disk’s exterior can permit a bit of the soft inner substance to escape and push against the nerves or spinal cord.
Thickened ligaments. The fibrous cords that assist in holding the bones of your spine concurrently can grow thickened and stiff over time. These hardened ligaments can protrude into the spinal canal.
Tumors and Cysts, Abnormal growths can develop within the spinal cord, within the laminae or membranes that incorporate the spinal cord or in the area between the vertebrae and spinal cord. These are unique and recognizable on spine imaging with an MRI or CT.
Spinal injuries. Car accidents and other injuries can cause dislocations or fractures of one or more vertebrae. Removed or moved bone from a spinal fracture may damage the contents of the spinal canal. Swelling of nearby tissue rapidly after back surgery also can put force on the spinal cord or nerves.
Most individuals with spinal stenosis are over the age of 50. Though degenerative changes can cause spinal stenosis in younger people, other causes need to be considered. These include trauma, congenital spinal deformation such as scoliosis, and a genetic disease affecting bone and muscle development throughout the body. Spinal imaging can differentiate these causes.
Infrequently or seldom, untreated severe spinal stenosis may advance and cause permanent:
To determine spinal stenosis, your physician may inquire about symptoms, examine your medical history, and administer a physical examination. He or she can obtain various imaging tests to assist in pinpointing the reason for your symptoms.
These tests may include:
X-rays. An X-ray of your back can show bony changes, such as bone spurs that may be narrowing the space within the spinal canal. Each X-ray includes a small exposure to radiation.
Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). An MRI uses a robust magnet and radio waves to generate cross-sectional pictures of your spine. The test can detect injury to your disks and ligaments, as well as the appearance of tumors. Most significantly, it can explicate where the nerves in the spinal cord are being pressed .
CT or CT myelogram. If you can’t have an MRI, your doctor may recommend computerized tomography (CT), a test that connects X-ray images taken from many different angles to produce comprehensive, cross-sectional images of your body. In a CT myelogram, the CT scan is administered after a contrast dye is inserted. The dye the nerves and spinal cord , and it can exhibit herniated disks, tumors and bone spurs.
Spinal stenosis surgery
Treatment and therapy for spinal stenosis is based on the region of the stenosis and the cruelty of your symptoms.
Discuss with your physician about the treatment that’s suitable for your situation. If your signs are mild or you aren’t enduring any, your physician may observe your condition with routine follow-up appointments. He or she may offer some self-care suggestions that you can do at your home. If these don’t help, he or she may prescribe medications or physical therapy. Surgery may be an possibility if other strategies haven’t assisted.
Pain relievers. Pain medicines such as ibuprofen ( Motrin IB, Advil, others), naproxen (Aleve, others) and acetaminophen (Tylenol, others) may be used provisionally to ease the distress of spinal stenosis. They are generally suggested for a small amount of time only, as there’s limited evidence of interest from long-term use.
Antidepressants. Regularly doses of tricyclic antidepressants, such as amitriptyline, can help ease chronic pain.
Anti-seizure drugs. Some anti-seizure drugs, such as gabapentin (Neurontin) and pregabalin (Lyrica), are used to reduce pain caused by damaged nerves.
Opioids. Medications that include codeine-related drugs such as oxycodone (Oxycontin, Roxicodone) and hydrocodone (Norco, Vicodin) may be useful for short-term pain relief. Opioids may also be regarded carefully for long-term treatment. But they carry the risk of severe side effects, including growing habit forming.
It’s common for indiviusal who have spinal stenosis to shift less active, in an effort to reduce pain. But that can lead to muscle deficiency, which can result in more pain. A physical therapist can instruct you on exercises that may asisst:
- Build up your endurance and strength
- Retain the flexibility and stability of your spine
- Steroid Injections
- Improve your balance
- Your nerve roots may grrow irritable and inflammed at the places where they are being compressed. While injecting a steroid medication (corticosteroid) into the space around contravention won’t correct the stenosis, it can assist in decreasing the swelling and alleviate some of the discomfrort.
Steroid medicinal injectsions don’t work out for everyone. And continued steroid injections can detieroat nearby bones and linked tissue, so you can only get these injections several times a year.
With this surgery, needle-like instruments are utilized to extract a portion of a thickened ligament in the postieiror of the spinal column to increase spinal canal space and extrate nerve root impingement. Only outpatients with lumbar spinal stenosis and a hardened ligament are suited for this type of decompression.
The surgery is called percutaneous image-guided lumbar decompression (PILD). It has also been referred to as minimally invasive lumbar decompression (MILD), but to evade confusion with minimally invasive surgical procedures, phyiscans have chosen the term PILD.
Because PILD is implemented without general anesthesia, it can be an alternative for some people with extraordinary surgical risks from other medical issues.
Surgery may be thought if other treatments haven’t assisted or if you’re impaired by your symptoms. The purposes of surgery include alleviating the stress on your spinal cord or nerve roots by producing more space within the spinal canal. Surgery to decompress the area of stenosis is the most comprehensive way to try to improve symptoms of spinal stenosis.
Research reveals that spine surgeries result in fewer complications when done by highly experienced surgeons. Don’t wait to ask about your surgeon’s background with spinal stenosis surgery. If you have any difficulties, get a second opinion.
Examples of surgical methods to treat spinal stenosis include:
Laminectomy. This surgery eliminates the back part (lamina) of the affected vertebra. A laminectomy is seldom referred to as decompression surgery since it eases the tension on the nerves by generating more space around them.
In some cases, that vertebra may need to be linked to adjoining vertebrae with metal hardware and a bone graft (spinal fusion) to maintain the spine’s strength.
Laminotomy. This procedure extracts only a portion of the lamina, typically carving a hole just big enough to reduce the pressure in a particular spot.
Laminoplasty. This procedure is execute only on the vertebrae in the neck (cervical spine). It loosens up space within the spinal canal by forming a hinge on the lamina. Metal hardware bridges the hol in the opened section of the spine.
Minimally invasive surgery. This strategy to surgery eliminates bone or lamina in a way that lessens the damage to nearby good or healthy tissue. This results in less requriement to do fusions.
While fusions are a valuable way to maintain the spine and reduce pain, by avoiding them you can reduce potential risks, such as post-surgical pain and swelling and disease in nearby sections of the spine. In addition to reducing the require for spinal fusion, a minimally invasive approach to surgery has been proved to result in shorter recovery time.
In most cases, these space-creating operations help reduce spinal stenosis symptoms. But some people’s symptoms remain the same or get worse after surgery. Other surgical risks involve infection, a tear in the membrane that envelops the spinal cord, a blood clot witin a leg vein and neurological deterioration.
Potential future treatments
Clinical trials are ongoing to test the utilize of stem cells to excise degenerative spinal disease, an proposition sometimes reffered to as regenerative medicine. Genomic medicine trials are also being imolement, which could end in new gene therapies for spinal stenosis.
Integrative medical and alternative therapy can be ultilzed with standard treatments to help you cope with spinal stenosis pain. Examples include:
Talk with your phyiscan if you’re interested in these treatment options.
Lifestyle and habitiual
You’ll have regular follow-up appointments with your physicans to monitor your ailment. He or she may recommend that you include several home treatments into your life, including:
Trying pain relievers – Over-the-counter medcines such as aspirin, ibuprofen ( Motrin IB, Advil, others), naproxen (Aleve, others) and acetaminophen (Tylenol, others) can help decrease pain and inflammation.
Utilizing hot or cold packs.Some signs and symptoms of cervical spinal stenosis may be relieved by applying heat or ice to your neck.
Maintaining a healthy weight – Aim to keep a healthy weight. If you’re overweight or obese, your doctor may recommend that you lose weight. Losing excess weight can reduce pain by taking some stress off the back, particularly the lumbar portion of the spine.
Exercising. Flexing, stretching and muscle stimulating exercises may help open up the spine. Talk with a physical therapist or your physician about what activities are safe to do at home.
Using a cane or walker. In addition to giving stability, these assistive devices can help relieve pain by allowing you to bend forward while walking.
Getting ready for your appointment
If your primary care physician thinks you have spinal stenosis, he or she may introduce you to a physician who concentrates in disorders of the nervous system (neurologist). Based on the seriousness of your symptoms, you may also need to see a spinal surgeon ( orthopedic surgeon or orthopedic surgeon).
What you can do
Before the your medical appointment, you might want to prepare a list of answers to the following questions:
Has it worsened with time?
When did you first notice this problem?
Do you have other medical problems?
Your doctor may ask a few of the following questions:
Have your siblings or parents ever had similar symptoms?
What supplements and medications do you take regularly?
What to presume from your physician
What spine surgeries or injections have you had done?
Your physician may ask some of the subsequent questions:
Do you feel more clumsy lately?
Do you have pain? Where is it?
Does any position calm the pain or worsen it?
Do you have any numbness and weakness, or tingling?
What treatments have you tried before for these issues?
Have you had any difficulty controlling your bowel or bladder?
Do you have any weakness, numbness or tingling?