When Things Get Too Crowded in Your Spine

Our bodies go through unending impacts and stresses throughout our lives. From jumping for a basketball rebound as a younger person to walking six miles carrying a 25-pound bag on the golf course; from two sets of high impact tennis to bending over for hours pruning perennials in the garden; it all takes a toll over time. This continual wear and tear over our lives can lead to a narrowing of the spaces within the spine. This begins to cramp the space occupied by nerves that travel through the spine. This is called spinal stenosis.

Dr. Tinley has a variety of treatment approaches. Usually conservative, non-invasive methods are effective. But in some cases, he needs to relieve the pressure on the spinal cord and nerves with decompression surgery.

In November’s two blogs, let’s get into spinal stenosis.

Why does the spine become narrower?

The spine is a miracle of support, carrying heavy loads and dealing with various impacts, yet allowing a wide range of motion. Over time, our spine can show the effects of this wear and tear. It causes damage from what is called osteoarthritis. As discs degenerate, they can allow the vertebrae to form bone spurs that can grow into the spinal canal. These impinge on the nerves.

Herniated disks also lead to stenosis. As we age, our disks dry out and can crack. This allows the soft gel inside to push outward, pressing on the spinal cord or nearby nerves.

Tumors can form inside the spinal cord, either within the membranes that cover the spinal cord or in the space between the spinal cord and the vertebrae.

Trauma from car accidents of other injuries can cause dislocations or fractures of one or more vertebrae. Displaced bone from these fractures can affect the spinal cord and nerves.

Symptoms of cervical stenosis

Because the spinal cord is being squeezed, the symptoms of spinal stenosis are nerve related. When the nerve compression is happening in the seven vertebrae that make up our neck, these are some of the typical symptoms:

  • Arm pain
  • Intermittent shooting pains into the arms and legs, especially when bending forward
  • Deterioration of fine motor skills such as those needed to button your shirt
  • Loss of grip strength

Arm pain is the usual symptom that brings patients to DFW Center for Spinal Disorders looking for answers.

Symptoms of lumbar stenosis

Because the nerves running out of the lumbar spine serve the lower body, that’s where symptoms will show themselves. These are typical signs of lumbar stenosis:

  • Tired, heavy feeling in the back, buttocks, and legs while walking or standing
  • Cramping sensation in those same areas
  • Decreased ability to walk due to weakness, numbness, and pain in the legs
  • Changes in bowel or bladder function

In November’s second blog, we’ll get into treatment options Dr. Tinley uses for spinal stenosis. If you’re suffering from chronic back pain, please give us a call at (817) 916-4685 and let’s see what’s going on.

Posted in: Spinal Stenosis

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