Spinal stenosis is narrowing of spaces in the spine, or backbone, which causes pressure on the spinal cord and nerves. Typically, spinal stenosis occurs in the low back. In most cases, the narrowing of the spine compresses the nerve root, resulting in pain along the back of the leg. There are a variety of potential causes for spinal stenosis, including aging, arthritis, heredity, instability of the spine, tumors of the spine, and trauma.
In the case of aging, the body’s ligaments can thicken. Small growths may develop on the bones and into the spinal canal. In some cases, the cushioning discs between the vertebrae can often begin to deteriorate. While at other times the facet joints may be beginning to break down.
If the spinal canal is too small at birth, it’s common for spinal stenosis to show up in someone who is relatively young. This is when heredity plays the major role in the cause of spinal stenosis. Structural deformities of the involved vertebrae can cause narrowing of the spinal canal.
Instability of the spine causes spinal stenosis when one vertebrae begins slipping forward onto another vertebrae, causing the spinal canal to narrow. Tumors of the spine relate to abnormal growths of soft tissue, which may affect the spinal canal by causing inflammation or growth of tissue into the canal. This type of tissue growth may lead to bone loss or displacement of bone and the unavoidable collapse of the supporting framework of the spinal column. Accidents or injuries resulting in trauma may either dislocate the spine and the spinal canal or cause burst fractures that produce fragments of bone that penetrate the canal.
Symptoms of Spinal Stenosis
The most common symptom of spinal stenosis is pain in the low back. Stenosis often pinches the nerves that control muscle power and sensation in the legs. Other symptoms of spinal stenosis include:
- Frequent falling
- Pain and difficulty when walking
- Tingling and hot or cold feelings in the legs
- Stiff legs and thighs
- Rib pain
- Loss of bladder control
However it is not uncommon for spinal stenosis to progress without generating any signs or symptoms.
Seeing a doctor early and often are important steps in the treatment and prevention of developing serious cases of spinal stenosis. Milder cases of spinal stenosis are typically treated with pain medicine and physical therapy. This treatment should reduce inflammation of the affected area and help with pain management. Steroid shots are used in some cases in order to minimize inflammation.
If conservative treatments aren’t making the necessary progress, decompression surgery may be recommended. This type of surgery removes the bone and tissue that are pressing against the nerves and causing pain. Another treatment option for more serious conditions of spinal stenosis is spinal fusion surgery. This surgery permanently connects two or more vertebrae in your spine, eliminating motion between them.
Contact Los Angeles Spine Group Today
If you are suffering from numbness or pain in your lower back, contact an orthopedic spine specialist today either online or by calling 310.321.4333 to begin learning more about effective treatment options.