Spinal stenosis is a condition in which the space between the spine narrows, putting pressure on the nerves that travel through the spinal column, typically in the lower back and the neck.
Symptoms of Spinal Stenosis
Patients with spinal stenosis may not experience any symptoms. Those that do have symptoms may experience pain, numbness, tingling, and muscle weakness that becomes worse over time.
- Balance problems
- Difficulty walking
Weakness in the hand, arm, foot, or leg
Numbness or tingling in the hand, arm, foot, or leg
In severe cases, bowel or bladder dysfunction (urinary urgency and incontinence)
Spinal stenosis in the lower back (lumbar spine), may cause the following symptoms:
Weakness in the foot or leg
Numbness or tingling in the foot or leg
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- Pain or cramping in one or both legs when standing for long periods of time or when walking, which usually eases when bending forward or sitting
Causes of Spinal Stenosis
Spinal stenosis may be caused by:
- Bone overgrowth. Osteoarthritis may lead to wear and tear on the vertebrae, resulting in the formation of bone spurs that can grow into the spinal canal. Paget’s disease is another condition that can cause bone overgrowth in the spine.
Herniated discs. As individuals grow older, the discs between the vertebrae tend to dry out and become more likely to develop cracks in
their hard exterior. This may allow some of the soft inner material to escape and increase pressure on the spinal cord or nerves.
Thickened ligaments. The tough cords that connect the individual vertebrae can become stiff and very thick over time. These thickened ligaments can bulge into the spinal canal and lead to symptoms of spinal stenosis.
Tumors. Abnormal growths, or tumors, can grow within the membranes that cover the spinal cord or in the space between the spinal cord and vertebrae. Spinal tumors are rare but can be identified with an MRI or CT.
Spinal injuries. Injuries from car accidents and other trauma can dislocate or fracture one or more vertebrae, damaging the contents of the spinal canal. Back surgery may also cause swelling of nearby tissue, putting extra pressure on the spinal cord and nerves.
Treatment Options For Spinal Stenosis
The right treatment for patients diagnosed with spinal stenosis will depend on the severity of their symptoms and their overall condition. At Central Nevada Regional Care, patients may be treated with pain management therapy, joint and soft tissue injections, and occupational medicine.
Patients who need pain management therapy may undergo a range of treatments, such as hot and cold therapy, massage, yoga, tai chi, deep breathing, progressive muscle relaxation, meditation, antidepressants, beta-blockers, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medication, acupuncture, cognitive behavior therapy, and opioids.
Joint and soft tissue injections may also help alleviate pain from spinal stenosis. Staff at Central Nevada Regional Care provide epidural injections, piriformis injections, sacroiliac joint injections, and trigger point injections.
Some cases of spinal stenosis interfere with daily life and impair a patient’s ability to fulfill job responsibilities. In these cases, occupational medicine specialists could help the patient adjust to the demands of the workplace as they pursue treatment for spinal stenosis.
Advanced Treatment For Spinal Stenosis
Some patients may need advanced treatment for spinal stenosis. Advanced treatment may include physical therapy, chiropractic adjustment, and even surgery. Patients are encouraged to speak to their physician at Central Nevada Regional Care to learn more about obtaining advanced treatment for spinal stenosis.
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