What is Spinal Stenosis?
Spinal stenosis is a narrowing of the spinal canal or the foramen, the opening through which nerve roots pass. Stenosis can develop in any area of the spine.
Degenerative changes in the spine, a collapsed disc, bone spurs, or cysts can cause the spinal canal to narrow. This narrowing places pressure on the nerve roots and/or spinal cord, often resulting in pain.
Types of Spinal Stenosis
The type of spinal stenosis are determined based on the location of the condition. The two most common forms are the following:
- Cervical spinal stenosis – this occurs in the neck
- Lumbar spinal stenosis – this occurs in the lower back
What Is Cervical Spinal Stenosis?
Cervical spinal stenosis is the narrowing of the spinal canal in the neck. The spinal canal can squeeze and compress the nerve roots where they leave the spinal cord which or it may compress the spinal cord itself. Squeezing the nerves and cord in the cervical spine can change how the spinal cord functions. The spinal cord is the nerves that allow us to feel, move, and control the bowel and bladder as well as other body functions.
Cervical Spinal Stenosis Symptoms
- Stiffness in neck
- Weakness in arms causing difficulty using the hands
- Pain and Numbness in hands and/or arms
What Causes Cervical Spinal Stenosis?
Cervical Stenosis most common factors include:
- Arthritic changes in neck
- Bone spurs push on nerves and spinal cord
- Large disc herniations
What Is Lumbar Spinal Stenosis?
Lumbar spinal stenosis is when the spinal nerves in the lower back are compressed, which often leads to leg pain and other symptoms.
Lumbar Spinal Stenosis Symptoms
- Tired, heavy feeling in back, buttocks, and legs while walking or standing
- Cramping sensation in these areas
- Decreased walking due to weakness, numbness or pain in legs
What Causes Lumbar Spinal Stenosis?
Degenerative changes limiting nerve space, or osteoarthritis is the most common cause of lumbar stenosis. This gradual wear and tear on the joints over time, can cause changes to the spine, especially in those over the age of 50. The lack of blood supply induces symptoms. Besides this most common cause, there are other conditions that can cause spinal stenosis:
- Narrowing of the spinal canal
- Injury to the spine
- Spinal tumor
- Certain bone diseases
- Rheumatoid arthritis
Spinal Stenosis Treatment Options
Medications, physical therapy or spinal cortisone injections are all options for pain relief. Surgery is an option for those who do not improve.
During this procedure, the removal of both the spinous process and lamina help to decrease pressure on the spinal cord. Instrumentation can be used to ensure stability.
This procedure involves removing all or portions of the lamina, removing bone spurs and/or enlarging foramen to relieve pressure or compression on the nerve roots or spinal cord. This pressure often is the cause of the pain.
Decompression & Posterolateral Fusion
Often times, in addition to a decompression, your surgeon will perform an instrumented posterolateral fusion by inserting a series of screws and rods coupled with the placement of a bone graft. This fusion provides increased spinal stability.
Anterior Lumbar Interbody Fusion (ALIF)
The surgical approach is from the front of the abdomen. Once the exposure is made, the disc material causing the nerve compression is removed. After removal, an interbody cage or bone spacer is placed at the disc site filled with bone graft. The vertebral bodies above and below are frequently put under compression to aid in the subsequent spinal fusion.
Posterior Transforaminal Interbody Fusion
The same procedure as the ALIF but the approach and exposure are performed from the back. Just as in an ALIF, the disc material is removed and an interbody device is inserted. Compression through the use of pedicle screws is frequently achieved to aid in fusion.
Schedule a Consultation
If you suffer Spinal Stenosis, contact our office today at (817) 916-4685 to schedule a consultation with out of our board-certified spine surgeons. Our practice serves Arlington, Irving, Dallas, Fort Worth, Las Colinas and surrounding areas in Texas.