What is spinal stenosis?
The bones of the spine create a channel for the spinal cord and nerve roots. Spinal stenosis is a narrowing of this channel, most commonly due to degenerative spinal disease associated with aging. In some cases, a person can be born with spinal stenosis.
What are the symptoms of spinal stenosis?
Spinal stenosis can put pressure on the spinal cord or on nerve roots — the branches of the spinal cord that extend into the body — resulting in myelopathy.
What are the risk factors of spinal stenosis?
As we age, inflammation, arthritic illness and bone spurs can narrow the openings in the vertebrae. In addition, spinal disks that cushion the space between the vertebrae gradually dry out and flatten, and can put pressure on the spinal canal.
Spinal stenosis diagnosis
Your doctor may recommend the following tests:
Spinal stenosis treatment
Mild cases of stenosis may be treated with non-surgical approaches. A combination of exercise, lifestyle changes, hot and cold treatments, injections, or oral medication can help you control your symptoms.
It’s very important to take any medications exactly as your doctor prescribes them, since many pain medicines and muscle relaxers can cause side effects, especially when used for a long time.
For advanced stenosis, your doctor may recommend surgery, such as a procedure to increase the channel space of your spinal cord (laminoplasty) or one that permanently removes a small section of bone from the spine to relieve pressure on the cord (laminectomy).
Minimally invasive spine surgery may resolve stenosis with a lower risk for complications and a potentially faster recovery time than conventional open surgery procedures.