Spinal stenosis is one of the most popular spinal conditions in people over 50 years of age. Although it is less frequent, young people can also suffer this pathology from strong trauma. Also, diseases or pathologies such as osteoarthritis or scoliosis make people more prone to stenosis.
Specifically, it is a disease developed by narrowing of the spine, which then causes pressure on the nerves and the spinal cord, resulting in pain.
Lumbar spinal stenosis versus cervical spinal stenosis
There are two types of spinal stenosis: cervical stenosis and lumbar stenosis . While lumbar spinal stenosis is more common, cervical spinal stenosis is often more dangerous because it involves compression of the spinal cord.
- In lumbar stenosis, the spinal nerve roots in the lower back are compressed or strangled, leading to Sciatica symptoms: weakness, tingling, or numbness radiating from the lower back to the buttocks and legs.
- Cervical spinal stenosis can cause severe symptoms, including significant body weakness or even paralysis.
Symptoms of spinal stenosis
Leg pain when walking (claudication) can be caused by arterial circulatory failure or spinal stenosis. Leg pain from either condition goes away with rest. However, with spinal stenosis, the patient usually has to sit for a few minutes to relieve leg pain and often low back pain, while claudication leg pain disappears if the patient simply stops walking.
While leg pain and stenosis symptoms will occasionally appear acutely, they usually develop over several years. The longer a patient with spinal stenosis walks or stands, the more leg pain worsens.
Sitting or bending forward will open the spinal canal and relieve leg pain and other symptoms, but they will return if the patient returns to an upright posture. Pain may be accompanied by tingling or numbness, but true weakness is an unusual symptom of spinal stenosis. An older person leaning on the handle of their grocery cart while taking small, unsteady steps often has spinal stenosis.
To diagnose spinal stenosis, doctors take a complete patient history. In addition, neurological and physical examination is conducted. The patient is also asked to explain his symptoms, like when did the pain started, activities that alleviate or aggravate symptoms, and the result of previous therapies and medications.
Furthermore, the doctor may also test your reflexes and feel your spine. He will test your balance to determine how much motion you have in your spine. You may be asked to bend forward, backward, and side to side. These reflex tests help rule out muscle weakness, loss of extremity reflexes, and loss of feeling. The extremities are your arms and legs.
The interventional treatment approach
Following are few Interventional treamemt approaches for spinal stenosis:
- Physical Therapy: While a proper physical exercise program for spinal stenosis can be helpful in the hands of an excellent physical therapist, it is not curative. However, despite the fact that stenosis exercises are not a cure, it is crucial that patients stay active within their tolerance and do not become further weakened due to inactivity; therefore, an exercise program for spinal stenosis is a vital component of any treatment program.
- Epidural Injections: An injection of cortisone into the space outside the dura (the epidural space) can temporarily relieve symptoms of spinal stenosis. While injections can very rarely be considered curative, these spinal stenosis treatments can relieve pain in about 50% of cases. In addition, it can be tried with up to three injections in the course of several months. Although they are not considered diagnostic in themselves, generally, if the pain caused by spinal stenosis is relieved by an epidural steroid injection, then the patient can also be expected to have a good outcome if they decide to have surgery for spinal stenosis later.
- Minuteman Procedure: The Minuteman implant is performed as a day case under local or general anesthesia. It involves the implantation of the device in the space between two backbones to relieve pressure on the nerves and, therefore, pain in the legs.
- MILD: This complex procedure is performed without general anesthesia and is the best option for people with high surgical risks from other medical problems. Patients with a thickened ligament and lumbar spinal stenosis are eligible for this type of decompression. The spinal canal space is increased by removing thickened ligaments from the back of the spinal column with the help of a needle-like instrument. MILD is a short form of Minimally Invasive Lumbar Decompression.
- Vertiflex: Vertiflex procedure is a solution for back pain patients who have failed injections or medications. It relieves back pain by re-establishing the standard space between the vertebrae. FDA approves this procedure.
Do not wait to begin the conversation for your mobility issues or back pain relief. Dr. Munish Lal will assist you in solving your frequent concerns and help you master how to enhance the health of your spine for optimal wellness. Right at the heart of Torrance, CA, pain care is just a call away.