Spinal Stenosis is narrowing of the spinal cord and compression upon the nerves causing back and leg pain. As our bodies naturally age our bones become weaker and our discs loose mass. This not only causes a decrease in height but it also places pressure upon the spinal cord and nerves.
There are two types of stenosis, congenital and acquired. Congenital Stenosis is a narrowing of the spinal cord that you are born with. Usually the symptoms present around 30 or 40 years of age. Acquired Stenosis is stenosis that develops over time from general wear and tear. Usually the symptoms present around 60 years of age.
Symptoms of stenosis include back pain that radiates into the legs or arms. Also in the arms or legs there can be numbness, tingling, or burning. The patient may also find they are unable to walk long distances and get some relief by leaning forward when walking. Therefore the use of a shopping cart at the store helps them to ambulate. Sitting or lying down will also alleviate the pain.
Treatment options range from conservative to surgery. Conservative treatments include pain medications, physical therapy, chiropractic care, acupuncture, or epidural or nerve root blocks with Pain Management. If the patient fails conservative care then surgery is an option.
There are a few surgery options for Spinal Stenosis. A decompression involves removing the spinous process of the spine to give the spinal cord more room. It is referred to as “unroofing” the spinal cord. If the spine is so degenerative that the decompression makes it unstable then a fusion must also be performed to stabilize it. This involves inserting screws and rods to hold the spine steady.