Spinal Stenosis and Your Spine

At DFW Center for Spinal Disorders, Dr. Tinley treats patients every day whose back issues and pain are all due to a lack of space in the spinal canal or where the nerve roots exit the spine. This is known as spinal stenosis. Stenosis is usually in the cervical spine (neck), affecting the neck, shoulders, and arms; or it’s in the lumbar spine (lower back), affecting the lower back, buttocks, and legs.

Here’s what happens and why it’s causing you so much pain.

What causes spinal stenosis?

This is usually a problem for older people. If you add up the loads and stresses we’ve placed on our bodies over our lifetime, it’s a massive amount. You don’t get off without paying some sort of prices for decades of use. Can you say “osteoarthritis?” This “wear and tear” arthritis has little in common with the immune system-attacking rheumatoid arthritis. Osteoarthritis causes spinal discs to degenerate and bone spurs to form as bones rub together. Bone spurs make the spinal canal smaller, and they begin to press on the spinal cord or the nerve roots exiting the spinal column.

This creates symptoms that are similar to those when a patient has a herniated disc. But the pressure isn’t as localized because it’s not a single disc that is the cause.

What are the symptoms of stenosis?

Patients with spinal stenosis may experience cramping, pain, and numbness in the legs, back, neck, shoulders, or arms. A loss of sensation, loss of balance and bladder control may also occur. Over time, the nerve compression can lead to loss of strength and function in the arms and legs.

How is stenosis treated?

Your treatment depends on the severity of your pain and the duration. Long-term compression can cause permanent loss of function, so that’s always a concern. But in most cases, conservative, non-invasive methods can be effective. These could involve:

  • Physical therapy
  • Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs
  • Back brace
  • Rest

If conservative treatments don’t alleviate your pain, Dr. Tinley may need to free up some room in your spinal canal. This is decompression surgery. These procedures could be:

  • Decompressive laminectomy
  • Laminotomy
  • Fusion

If you have chronic pain in your lower back, buttocks, and legs or out into your shoulders and arms, you could have the nerve compression of stenosis. Call us at DFW Center for Spinal Disorders, (817) 916-4685, to schedule your appointment.

Posted in: Spinal Disorders

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