Do you have weakness in your arms or legs, and pain in your neck or back? Spinal stenosis is a common issue affecting the neck or lower back.
At Steel City Spine, Dr. Jocelyn Idema and her staff have helped many patients experiencing debilitating neck or back pain. We have the training and skills to help you understand why you’re experiencing pain and to offer the treatment options that are most likely to be effective.
In this post, we discuss spinal stenosis, what causes it, and what kinds of treatments are available.
Spinal stenosis basics
Your spine is vital. It allows you amazing mobility and also houses the nerves of your spinal cord. Those nerves travel through the naturally occurring spaces in your spine and eventually exit to other parts of your body.
As the space in your spinal column narrows, they can press on those nerves, causing irritation and inflammation. The result is pain and other uncomfortable symptoms, which can include:
- Neck pain
- Back pain
- Numbness or tingling in your legs, arms, feet, or hands
- A feeling of weakness in your arms or legs that may worsen
- Cramping in your legs that gets worse when you stand or walk but improves when you lean forward
- Loss of bowel or bladder control
Spinal stenosis is usually progressive, meaning it gets worse over time.
Causes of spinal stenosis
Anything that causes your spinal column to become narrower can result in spinal stenosis. The most common cause is osteoarthritis (OA). OA is sometimes referred to as wear-and-tear arthritis because it occurs with age or overuse of a joint.
OA can cause degenerative changes in your spine. For example, the tissues that normally protect your vertebrae and help them glide as you bend and twist can begin to break down. The result is inflammation and swelling and a narrowed passageway for the nerves of your spinal cord.
Some other common issues that may lead to spinal stenosis include:
- Herniated discs
- Bone spurs, which are bony overgrowths
- Thickening and stiffening ligaments in your spine
- Trauma, such as an injury
More rarely, an abnormal growth or tumor can lead to spinal stenosis.
Treatments for spinal stenosis
Once Dr. Idema has examined you and discovered where your spinal column is narrowed, why, and how narrow it has become, she may recommend treatments. She generally begins with conservative approaches such as:
- Physical therapy
- Modification of your activities
- Oral medications
- Epidural injections to soothe irritated and inflamed nerves
In cases of more severe spinal stenosis or if you don’t get relief from conservative treatments, she may suggest minimally invasive surgery. Surgical intervention may be the most effective way to repair underlying damage and ease the pressure on your nerves, relieving your symptoms.
Minimally invasive surgery offers numerous benefits, including:
- Smaller incisions that heal more quickly
- Less pain from surgery
- Lower risk of infection
- A shorter stay in the hospital
- A faster return to your regular activities
Dr. Idema makes treatment suggestions based on your situation and always ensures you thoroughly understand your options. If you’d like to learn more about spinal stenosis and find out what treatments are likely to work for you, schedule your appointment today.