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Spinal Stenosis

Spinal Stenosis

Physicians

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What is Spinal Stenosis?

Spinal stenosis is the narrowing of the spinal canal. With less room to move, the spinal cord and nerve roots can get squeezed and can become pinched or inflamed. Increased pressure on the spinal cord and nerve roots can be painful. Spinal stenosis most often occurs in low back or neck, a condition known as cervical spinal stenosis.

Common Causes of Spinal Stenosis

Spinal stenosis often result from one or more of the following:

  • Degenerative changes in the spine from aging
  • Herniated disc (when one of the spongy discs in the spine herniate--leaks fluid from the tough outer membrane)
  • Osteoarthritis in the spine, which can cause bone spurs to form and spinal ligaments to thicken
  • Injury

 

Symptoms of Spinal Stenosis

  • Pain in your legs, buttocks or even feet.
  • Back pain that goes away if you lean forward and gets worse when you stand upright. Leaning forward opens up the space in the spinal canal and therefore can relieve symptoms; standing upright can reduce it.
  • If stenosis is present in your neck, you may feel numbness or tingling in your arm or hand and have problems with balance.
  • Nerves leading to your bladder or bowel may be affected, causing incontinence. This is an emergency and warrants immediate evaluation by a physician.

 

Best Treatment for Spinal Stenosis

Fortunately, several treatments are available for spinal stenosis, depending on your symptoms, tests results and level of physical activity. Your Orthopedic Institute of New Jersey (OINJ) spine doctor can recommend a personalized treatment plan.

Non-operative treatment can range from over the counter anti-inflammatory medication or prescription medicine along with physical therapy and injections. Be sure to exercise your options. Physical activity can strengthen your spine and make it less prone to stenosis. As you build up your tolerance to certain movements, you can improve your range of motion.

Your OINJ spine doctor or neck doctor may recommend surgery if these kinds of non-invasive treatments don’t help enough to reduce pain and increase your quality of life.

The first step is a thorough exam and evaluation. Once the diagnosis is determined, the treatment plan that is best for you and your condition can be built.

Surgical Solutions for Lumbar Spinal Stenosis

Surgical treatment for lumbar spinal stenosis depends on your symptoms as well as the cause and the extent of the stenosis. If a single degenerated disc is pressing on the nerve root, than isolated removable of that disc (“discectomy”) may be all that is necessary. If a focal area of your spinal column is involved, removing the lamina (the back of the spinal column) -- a procedure called a “laminectomy” -- may be performed. If multiple levels are involved and need to be decompressed or there is any instability of your spinal column, fusion of the lower back may be necessary.

Surgical Solutions for Lumbar Spinal Stenosis

Surgical treatment for lumbar spinal stenosis depends on your symptoms as well as the cause and the extent of the stenosis. If a single degenerated disc is pressing on the nerve root, than isolated removable of that disc (“discectomy”) may be all that is necessary. If a focal area of your spinal column is involved, removing the lamina (the back of the spinal column) -- a procedure called a “laminectomy” -- may be performed. If multiple levels are involved and need to be decompressed or there is any instability of your spinal column, fusion of the lower back may be necessary.

Healing Advice – Spinal Stenosis Fit Tips

“The best treatment for your spinal stenosis depends on the type of pain you have, its severity and how active you are.”

--Christopher Castro, DO, OINJ physiatrist

 


“When treating spinal stenosis, exercises that build strength and endurance while increasing the flexibility and stability of your spine are always important.”

--Michael Gutkin, MD, OINJ physiatrist