If the area inside your spinal canal narrows down, you can develop a condition known as spinal stenosis. The chances of developing this condition increase with aging as it affects most adults over 50 and can also affect young and middle-aged adults. Fortunately, this condition can be managed through conservative therapies, minimally invasive procedures, and surgery by the Roswell spinal stenosis specialists at Apex Spine and Neurosurgery. The experienced physicians use highly advanced techniques to restore the quality of your life.
Causes of Spinal Stenosis
Spinal stenosis often develops as a result of an underlying condition but can also be caused by an injury. It can create anywhere along the spine, but it usually occurs in the lower back’s lumbar spine. The underlying conditions include:
- Slipped vertebra (spondylolisthesis)
- Degenerative disk disease
- Thickened ligaments
- Bone spurs
- Facet joint arthritis
- Herniated disc
All these conditions in one way or the other contribute to the narrowing of the spinal canal or can cause misaligned vertebrae.
Symptoms Attributed to Spinal Stenosis
Spinal stenosis typically results in a pinched nerve, causing symptoms that travel along the nerve’s length. Depending on the location of the affected nerve, the symptoms can radiate into your arms or legs. Some of the symptoms you can experience include:
- Difficulty walking
- Hand weakness
- Leg cramping
- Weakness or tiredness in your arms or legs
- Tingling or numbness in your arms or legs
- Pain radiating down your arms or legs
- Pain in your neck or back
Spinal Stenosis Diagnosis and Treatment
Your symptoms are evaluated, and your medical history is reviewed to understand the cause of your condition. A physical examination can also be done to provide more information. Your provider can also order diagnostic imaging tests when the need arises to provide more definitive information. Such tests can include:
- X-rays use less radiation to indicate any bone structure changes, such as the development of bone spurs and loss of disk height.
- Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) uses a powerful magnet and radio waves to create detailed spine images. These images can indicate the disks, spinal cords, nerves, and the presence of any tumor.
- A myelogram is a computerized scan that combines x-ray but adds more contrast dye for more explicit photos.
After an accurate diagnosis, your initial treatment can include physical therapy, anti-inflammatory medications, posture correction, or activity modification, depending on the cause of your problem. Epidural steroid injections can be used to provide more relief than oral medications.
Surgery can be recommended when:
- Your symptoms become intolerable.
- Your pain results from pressure on the spinal cord
- You have lost bowel or bladder control.
- Walking and maintaining your balance has become difficult.
How You Can Avoid Spinal Stenosis
Although most of the causes of spinal stenosis are typical wear and tear age-related conditions, specific measures can reduce your risks or slow the condition’s progression. They include:
- Exercise to stay active but avoid practices that can contribute to pain.
- Maintain good posture in your daily activities
- Quit smoking
- Maintaining an ideal body weight and eating a healthy diet.
Spinal stenosis can cause pain and affect your performance. If you experience back or neck pain or other symptoms associated with your spinal cord, please seek medical assistance to manage the condition through different treatment options. Spinal stenosis surgery can be suggested to relieve your neck or low back pain.