What is Spinal Stenosis?
Simply put, the word “stenosis” is a medical term meaning the narrowing of a passage or channel in your body. So spinal stenosis is the narrowing of the open passages in your spine. This narrowing decreases the space in which your spinal nerves travel. The lack of available space can cause your spinal nerves to become pinched or inflamed.
The symptoms of spinal stenosis are:
- Pain in your legs, buttocks, or even feet can result from spinal stenosis in your lower back: because the condition affects your nerves, not the actual bone structure, what you are feeling stems from the pinched or inflamed nerve in your spine.
- The pain might be alleviated when you lean forward; this is because, in that position, you are opening up space in your spine.
- You may experience more pain when you are standing upright, because this position decreases that space in your spine.
- If stenosis is present in your neck, you may feel numbness or tingling in your arm or hand, and you may have problems with balance.
- The nerves that lead to your bladder or bowel may be affected, causing incontinence.
Spinal stenosis can result from one cause or a combination of causes.
- Herniated Disc in your Spine.
- Bone Spurs
- Thickening of the Spinal Ligaments.
Injuries or certain growths can also cause this condition. All of these situations decrease that space in the open passages.
“There are a number of treatments available if you have spinal stenosis,” says Christopher Castro, DO, a physiatrist at OINJ. “What’s the best treatment for you? That depends on the type of pain you have, its severity, and how active you are. After test results and discussion, we can determine what might work for you. It can be as simple as a regimen of over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medication, or it can include prescription medicine along with physical therapy and injections.”
Michael Gutkin, MD, another physiatrist at OINJ, agrees. “Once we determine the cause and extent of your condition, we can assess your options. Exercises that build your strength and endurance while increasing the flexibility and stability of your spine are always important, and we can help you build up your tolerance to certain movements while improving your range of motion. There are also different types of medicine available, and surgery can be considered if these kinds of non-invasive treatments aren’t helping enough.”
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.