11 Oct What is Spinal Stenosis?
As we age, the spine begins to deteriorate under the enormous pressure of daily life. In some people, a narrowing of the spinal canal can begin to occur. This condition is known as spinal stenosis. It’s most common in people over 50 and can cause pain and other problems as the spine is compressed.
Most people start noticing pain in their back and tingling, pain, or numbness in their legs, arms, and torso. The symptoms experienced depend upon the location of the affected nerves, and the severity of the condition. Patients may experience additional symptoms, including:
- Sciatica- an ache in the lower back or buttock region that may develop into a shooting pain that travels down the leg.
- Foot drop- pain and weakness that causes the foot to drop or “slap” on the ground when walking.
- Difficulty walking or standing
- Loss of bladder or bowel control (in extreme cases.)
What Causes Spinal Stenosis?
Spinal stenosis may be caused by a number of factors. The most common is arthritis. As the cushion between vertebrae begins to deteriorate, the result may be a narrowing of the spinal canal. Other causes include injury, herniated disc, a cancerous growth in the vertebrae, and Paget’s Disease, a condition in which bones grow abnormally large and brittle.
Spinal Stenosis Treatment
While there is no cure, there are treatments which can help alleviate the symptoms. Often, pain relieving and antidepressant medications are prescribed. Physical therapy is another option that may provide some relief. Physical therapy goals include strengthening the muscles that support the proper alignment of the spine, building up strength and endurance to improve overall mobility, and improving balance. Steroid injections can help reduce inflammation, helping to alleviate pain. A decompression procedure may be available to those with lumbar spinal stenosis. Since it doesn’t require general anesthesia, the procedure is considered minimally invasive. Finally, surgery is an option in extreme cases when other treatments haven’t helped. Talk to your doctor about the best treatment plan for your specific condition.