What is Spinal Stenosis?
Spinal stenosis is the narrowing of the openings in the spinal column that make up the passageways for the spinal cord and the exiting spinal nerves. The cervical and lumbar levels are the most frequently affected regions of the spinal column.
The more common symptoms of spinal stenosis can include pain, tingling and numbness. The pain can radiate into the buttocks and legs. This can cause difficulty with walking or standing.
Causes and Risks
Spinal stenosis is classified as either being lumbar or cervical based on the part of the spine that the condition exists. The lumbar region refers to the lower back and cervical refers to conditions that refer to the neck. It is possible for someone to have both conditions.
Lumbar spinal stenosis is the most common reason why individuals that are age 65 or older have spinal surgery. Younger people may experience these problems to a lesser extent. Many associated conditions are also common among those over the age of 60.
Often, the symptoms of spinal stenosis are quite mild, and people will not experience any noticeable effects.
Treatment and Prevention
It is important to focus on strengthening the muscles of the core and back to stabilize the spine and help to prevent spinal stenosis. Keeping a healthy body weight can also be integral in reducing unnecessary weight and thus compression on the spine. Spinal stenosis can often not be associated with any symptoms. When symptoms become severe, interventional pain management or surgery may be an appropriate option.
- Epidural steroid injections can be very helpful in reducing the pain associated with spinal stenosis. This can include Caudal or Interlaminar Epidural Steroid Injections as well as Transforaminal Epidural Steroid Injections.
- Minimally Invasive Decompression: When injections fail, less invasive surgical options are an appropriate option. These involve smaller incisions using scopes to access the area of stenosis and debulk to disc causing the pain.
- Lumbar Laminectomy: A lumbar laminectomy, or decompression, is a procedure that is performed in the hospital. The process involves making an incision to access the spine. In this procedure a surgeon removes part or all of the vertebral bone (lamina). This helps ease pressure on the spinal cord or the nerve roots that may be caused by injury, herniated disk, narrowing of the canal spinal stenosis.