Spinal stenosis is a condition that causes the gradual narrowing of the spine. It often occurs in the lower legs and neck. Patients may experience severe pain in the calves, legs, or lower back when they stand or walk. If you experience such symptoms, book a Georgetown Spinal Stenosis checkup to find out if you have spinal stenosis.
Causes of Spinal Stenosis
The main cause of the condition is age-related wear and tear; and conditions like osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.
The chances of getting spinal stenosis increase with age, with people over the age of 50 being at a higher risk. Nonetheless, other conditions that can cause spinal stenosis include:
- Being born with an abnormal spine
- Spinal tumors
- Previous spinal injuries
- Scoliosis and achondroplasia
Symptoms of Spinal Stenosis
It is still unknown why not everyone with spinal stenosis experiences symptoms. For those who exhibit them, however, the symptoms get worse with time.
The pressure caused by spinal stenosis on your nerve root can cause a burning sensation down your legs and arms. If you have spinal stenosis, you may develop weak muscles and have trouble grasping objects.
You might also experience numbness in your legs and buttocks as well as balance problems. In severe cases, you may suffer bowel or bladder dysfunction.
Your doctor will begin by studying your medical history and conducting a physical exam. He/she will also observe your movements. The doctor may then order some tests such as an X-ray, MRI scan, electro myelogram, and bone scan to confirm a suspected diagnosis.
Many people with spinal stenosis receive treatment and go on to lead full and active lives. The treatment method applied to a patient depends on the severity of the pain. The options include:
- Physical Therapy
Inactiveness causes muscle weakness, which leads to increased pain. If you have spinal stenosis, you should exercise with the help of a physical therapist. Physical therapy may include exercises to:
- Increase your strength and endurance
- Maintain your spine flexibility and stability
- Improve your balance, ability to bend and mobility
Work with your physical therapist to create a routine that works for your body.
Non-steroidal and anti-inflammatory medicines may relieve swelling and pain.
Your doctor may prescribe short-term pain relievers such as ibuprofen and naproxen. Tricyclic antidepressants help to relieve chronic pain and anti-seizure drugs to ease pain caused by damaged nerves. Additionally, a rheumatologist may prescribe any other medication to treat pain and muscle spasms.
- Cortisone Injections
Spinal stenosis causes nerve roots to become irritated and swollen. Cortisone injections work by reducing this inflammation.
Epidural injections are Injected directly into the area around the spinal cord. They may provide significant relief that is occasionally permanent.
These injections are given in a hospital or clinic on an outpatient basis. Eligible patients should only get them a few times a year. When used repeatedly, the injections can weaken nearby bones and connective tissue.
Decompression laminectomy is the best option for patients who, although healthy, have severe symptoms. The surgery removes the bony spurs and bone buildup in the spine, which frees up space for the nerves and spinal cord.
The doctor performs spinal fusion afterward to connect some vertebrae and offer the spine better support.
Recent studies have found that, when compared to non-surgical methods, surgical methods produce better results. Nevertheless, like all surgeries, there are risks to consider. Tissue tears, blood clots, infections, and injuries to nerve roots are possible side effects.
There is no known permanent cure for spinal stenosis. However, with the many possible treatment options, you can be assured of leading an active life. You may also implement some lifestyle changes like remaining active by stretching every day or walking. Furthermore, some patients report that using braces to support their backs and getting frequent massages helps too.