Spring and Spinal Stenosis

Man waking up in the morning and suffer for back painSpring has sprung here in Fort Worth, but if you’re suffering the effects of spinal stenosis, it may not be much cause for joy. That’s because spinal stenosis and the compression it places on spinal nerves can be compressing the activities you can continue to do, no matter the season.

In April’s two DFW Center for Spinal Disorders blog, let’s dive into spinal stenosis.

What Is Spinal Stenosis?

The word “stenosis” is the clue to what’s going on with this spinal condition. Stenosis is a medical term that describes when a normal-size opening has become narrow. When you add “spinal,’ the narrowing is in your spine. Spinal stenosis can affect all three segments of your spine, the cervical, thoracic, and lumbar.

When stenosis narrows the area where the spinal cord or the nerve roots exiting the spinal cord are located, this compression of the nerve causes local pain and often pain that radiates to the area the nerve services.

What Causes This Narrowing?

There are two paths for the nerves in our spine. You know the big one, the spinal canal. This is the vertical hole in every vertebra that align and create the housing for the spinal cord. The less known second route for nerves is the neuroforamen. These are the passageways between the sides of the vertebrae where the nerve roots exit the spinal canal (kind of like an exit off the Interstate) so they can run down the arms, throughout the torso, and down the legs.

Why does this happen? Aging is the most common cause of spinal stenosis. The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (of which Dr. Tinley is a member) says that degenerative changes in the spine are almost universal (up to 95%) in people over the age of 50. These changes may not yet be stenosis, but that could be in the future. Spinal stenosis occurs most often in those over 60.

Much of this is due to the wear and tear of life. The human spine handles incredible loads, and it does so every day all day, only getting a break when we’re sleeping. Osteoarthritis tends to create chronic inflammation and our vertebrae can respond by creating bone spurs. These often press on the nerve roots exiting the foramen.

If you’re suffering from chronic back pain, call Dr. Tinley at DFW Center for Spinal Disorders at (817) 916-4685 and let’s see if stenosis is behind your pain.

Posted in: Spinal Stenosis

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