Spinal stenosis is a condition characterized by a narrowing of the spaces within the spine. This narrowing puts pressure on the spinal cord which in turn affects the nerves, particularly those that travel from the spine to the arms and legs. However, the body parts most affected by this kind of stenosis are the neck and lower back.
Spinal Stenosis Symptoms
There are various spinal stenosis symptoms . The symptoms depend on the severity of the stenosis and the location or the affected part of the body. The following are the most common symptoms of spinal stenosis:
- Stenosis develops slowly, over time, often undetected at the onset.
- The episodes of pain in the lower back are intermittent. It comes and goes.
- The pain occurs or worsens during activities like biking or walking. Though walking can sometimes be good to alleviate back pain, in a spinal stenosis case it’s the other way around. Certain body positions also trigger the pain.
- The pain and discomfort are relieved when sitting, lying down or resting.
- Leg pain may be experienced when the stenosis has developed in the lumbar spine or lower back.
What Causes Spinal Stenosis?
Spinal stenosis develops through aging. It is part of the degenerative process. However, some people are born with such condition. Stenosis is closely related to the natural degeneration of the spine as one ages, especially once you turn 50 and above. The development of the condition is gradual, which means that there are no immediate symptoms at the onset. Although the narrowing has started, some patients do not yet feel its effects. As the condition continues to develop, the patient will eventually feel the symptoms such as radiating pain, weakness and numbness. All these result from the tightening or narrowing of the spinal cord which affects the nerves. The progress of the stenosis also leads to forward flexed posture and decreased physical activity.
What Is the Treatment for Spinal Stenosis?
There are various treatments to ease the symptoms and effects of the stenosis. The treatments include exercise, activity modification, epidural injections, medication or surgery, or a combination of these.
- Exercise program
This is a combination of exercises and physical therapy. This may not cure the spinal stenosis, but this definitely helps ease the discomfort and improve the movement of the patient. The program is important to keep the patient active and avoid further inactivity brought about by the progression of the condition.
- Activity modification
Patients need to modify their daily activities to prevent the further worsening of the stenosis. Avoiding certain activities like too much walking in upright position or biking. Sitting or resting on a recliner is also advisable.
- Epidural injections
This can temporarily alleviate the symptoms. Cortisone is injected into the epidural space. This is commonly used to provide temporary relief for the patient with stenosis.
Taking anti-inflammatory meds like ibuprofen and aspirin helps alleviate the common symptoms of stenosis. However, this must not be used long-term and you must only take the meds as prescribed. Some physicians also prescribe muscle relaxants.
In advanced cases of stenosis, decompression surgery is necessary. This is upon the discretion of the specialist.
Don’t let spinal stenosis rule over your days. You don’t have to bear the pain and other symptoms. All you have to do is visit Arizona Pain and Spine Institute. Make an appointment with us today and let us treat you and help you regain a normal life.