What Is Spinal Stenosis?
Spinal stenosis is a narrowing of the spaces within your spine, which can put pressure on the nerves that travel through the spine. Most often, spinal stenosis occurs in the neck and the lower back. Spinal stenosis is most commonly caused by wear-and-tear changes in the spine related to arthritis. Other causes may include spinal injuries, overgrowth of bone, herniated disks, and thickened ligaments.
Types of Spinal Stenosis
Spinal stenosis is classified according to where on the spine, the condition occurs. It’s possible to have more than one type of spinal stenosis. The two most common types are:
- Cervical stenosis.In this condition, the narrowing occurs in the part of the spine in your neck.
- Lumbar stenosis.In this condition, the narrowing occurs in the part of the spine in your lower back. It’s the most common form of spinal stenosis.
What Are the Symptoms of Spinal Stenosis?
Spinal stenosis can vary greatly from person to person. Signs and symptoms may include one or more of the following:
- The pain might be dull and confined to the neck or lower back, or it could be an electric-like pain that radiates into the arm(s) or leg(s). The pain can vary over time, possibly flaring up during certain activities. Sometimes the pain is more of a pins-and-needles tingling sensation.
- Reduced sensation or total numbness may occur in the arm, leg, and/or other areas of the body.
- Reduced strength or problems with coordination may be experienced in the arm, leg, and/or other parts of the body. Severe compression of the spinal cord or cauda equina (nerve roots running below the spinal cord) could result in bowel and/or bladder dysfunction.
Spinal stenosis does not always cause pain. While rare, numbness or weakness might be present with little or no pain.
Possible Treatment Options for Spinal Stenosis
Speak with a spine specialist today to discuss treatment options for your injury. However, your spine specialist may recommend nonsurgical options like:
Medication: Aspirin, ibuprofen, and pain remedies can offer short-term relief. Additionally, muscle relaxants can treat aspects of spinal stenosis, including muscle spasms and damaged nerves.
Corticosteroid injections: Your spine doctor will inject a steroid such as prednisone into your back or neck. While steroids reduce inflammation and pain, they are used sparingly because of the various side effects.
Anesthetics: A nerve block, or neural blockade, is a minimally invasive procedure in which an injection of medicine can block the pain experienced from specific nerves.
Exercise: Regular exercise can improve your balance, strength, and flexibility. Your spine specialist may also recommend a physical therapist to assist you during recovery.
Speak with a Spine Specialist Today
Make an appointment with one of our orthopedic specialists today to start your healing journey. OrthoArizona has nearly two dozen offices throughout the Valley, each focused on quality care, compassion, and excellent customer service. Since 1994, OrthoArizona has been dedicated to compassionate care of the highest quality.
The advice and information contained in this article is for educational purposes only and are not intended to replace or counter a physician’s advice or judgment. Please always consult your physician before taking any advice learned here or in any other educational medical material.