Spinal stenosis is a condition caused from the vertebral column constricting and exerting pressure on the spinal cord or neural foramen (a bony tunnel through which a nerve exits the spinal cord).
What is spinal stenosis?
Spinal Stenosis usually affects the cervical and lumbar spine. If the spinal canal is narrowed, the disorder is called cervical/lumbar central stenosis. If the foramen is narrowed, it is referred to as cervical/lumbar foraminal stenosis.
The possible causes for spinal stenosis include:
What are the symptoms of spinal stenosis?
Spinal stenosis may result in lower back pain and pain down the legs. The common symptoms include:
These symptoms usually gradually progress and worsen over time.
How is spinal stenosis diagnosed?
Diagnosis of spinal stenosis is based on the following:
Spine X-rays are radiological tests carried out to rule out other causes such as a tumor or infection. Sometimes, a CT scan or MRI is ordered to get a more detailed examination of the bone or soft tissues. Rarely, Myelography is performed which involves injection of a contrast material into the spine followed by X-rays to detect any pathology of the spine. These tests help in the diagnosis and treatment plan.
How is spinal stenosis treated?
Back pain is treated either surgically or non-surgically depending upon the severity and duration of pain or associated symptoms. The non-surgical treatment options include:
Surgery is indicated only if the pain fails to resolve with these treatments over a significant period of time. Surgery is carried out to ease pain by relieving pressure on affected nerves. Decompression of the spinal cord accompanied by a discectomy, or an anterior cervical discectomy and fusion will be performed to remove the affected disc and fuse the associated vertebrae in order to stabilize the spine in that area. Complications of spinal surgery can include excessive bleeding, infection, ongoing pain, nerve damage, or need for additional surgery.
Click on the link below to find out more from the orthopedic connection website of American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons.