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Our spine goes through a number of changes as we age. Some are inevitable, while others can be treated to ensure you stay active as you age. Spinal stenosis happens with the small space in your spinal canal begins to narrow or become compressed. This leads to pressure being placed on the joints and discs in the backbone as well as the nerves running from your spine to your arms and legs. It can occur in the upper, mid, or lower part of your back. It is most common in the lower back and neck in those over the age of 50. Spinal stenosis can be treated or halted easier the sooner it is diagnosed. If you have symptoms of spinal stenosis, it is important to seek treatment right away.
Spinal stenosis is a condition where the space around the spinal cord begins to narrow causing the spinal cord and nerve roots to become compressed. Your spinal cord is protected by your vertebrae, which are hollow in the middle to accommodate the spinal cord and nerves. Spinal stenosis occurs when the spinal canal inside your vertebrae begins to narrow. This causes compression of the nerves and spinal cord. The neck and lower back are the two most common locations for spinal stenosis. If located in the neck, it is called cervical spinal stenosis. If located in the lower back, it is referred to as lumbar spinal stenosis. This condition is fairly common due to the natural aging process.
Spinal stenosis is often the result of natural aging and normal wear and tear on your spine. It may also be attributed to an injury or accident affecting your spine. A condition called congenital spinal stenosis is when someone is born with a narrow spinal canal and will likely worsen over time. Spinal stenosis can be the result of other spine conditions and causes including:
In most cases, spinal stenosis emerges as a result of degenerative arthritis. The arthritis occurs over many years as a result of daily wear and tear on the spine. Over time, this can lead to a breakdown of the connective tissue that provides cushioning between the bones of the spinal column. This, in turn, increases the risk of bone spurs that can compress the spinal column and the nerves in the spine.
The risk factors for spinal stenosis include obesity, a medical history that includes back pain or back injuries, poor posture, hypertension, and frequent overextension of the back.
Diagnosing spinal stenosis starts with a review of your medical history that includes a rundown of your symptoms. A physical exam of your back and your extremities can show your levels of joint stiffness, mobility, reported pain, and other important symptoms. X-rays, ultrasounds, MRIs, or other imaging tests can allow your doctor to get a more accurate idea of your condition.
Most people have chronic pain from spinal stenosis, however, many of the symptoms may go unnoticed at the onset of the condition. As your condition progresses, the symptoms get progressively worse. The narrowing of the spinal canal will start to put pressure on your nerves and numbness, tingling, weakness, pain or cramping will be felt throughout your spine, down your arms and legs, or in the neck. The most common symptoms of spinal stenosis include cramps or aches in the calves. As it worsens, sufferers may have difficulty walking or standing due to the pain caused by stenosis.
Depending on which part of your spine is affected, you may experience different symptoms. In severe cases, some may experience paralysis, loss of bladder or bowel function, or difficulty having sex. Because of the associated leg pain, spinal stenosis is often misdiagnosed at first as a circulation problem. However when therapies for circulation are used, the individual will not feel relief as the condition causing pain is spinal stenosis and not circulation.
The most conservative treatments for spinal stenosis include NSAIDs to treat pain and inflammation. Other treatments include:
The physicians at Clearway Pain Solutions work with many spinal stenosis cases and are experienced in providing you pain relief. We offer customized and individualized treatments for each patient, working to reduce pain to a minimum. To start treating your spinal stenosis, schedule a consultation with Clearway Pain Solutions.
Are you experiencing symptoms that may be spinal stenosis? Call us to request an appointment. We can diagnose the cause of your pain and create a treatment plan for you.