Spinal Stenosis Treatment

June 1, 2024

Spinal stenosis is a common condition that affects many people, particularly as they age. It occurs when the spaces within your spine narrow, putting pressure on the nerves traveling through it. This blog will provide an overview of spinal stenosis and the different pain management options available at Greater Austin Pain Center, and when to seek professional help to manage your back pain.

Types of Spinal Stenosis

There are two primary types of spinal stenosis, which are defined by their location on the spinal column. The affected area and type of pain experienced allow individuals to get their spinal stenosis diagnosed and receive optimal treatment to keep their spine as healthy as possible.

Lumbar Spinal Stenosis

Lumbar spinal stenosis occurs in the lower back, specifically in the lumbar spine. This narrowing can compress the spinal cord and nerves that travel through the lower back and into the legs. The primary lumbar spinal stenosis symptoms include lower back pain, leg pain, numbness, tingling, and muscle weakness in the legs and feet. These symptoms often worsen with activities that involve standing or walking and improve when sitting or leaning forward. It is commonly associated with aging, as the wear and tear on the spine over time can lead to the degeneration of intervertebral discs and thickening of ligaments.

Cervical Spinal Stenosis

Cervical spinal stenosis affects the neck region, specifically the cervical spine. This condition can compress the spinal cord and nerves that travel through the neck and into the arms. Symptoms of cervical spinal stenosis include neck pain, shoulder pain, numbness, tingling, and weakness in the arms and hands. In severe cases, it can also affect balance and coordination. Cervical spinal stenosis can result from age-related changes, such as disc degeneration, bone spurs, or thickened ligaments, and requires prompt medical attention due to the potential for serious neurological complications from the nerve compression.

What Spinal Stenosis Pain Feels Like

Spinal stenosis pain can vary significantly among individuals. Typically, it is characterized by a radiating pain that can affect the neck, lower back, and legs. People often describe the pain as a dull ache, burning sensation, or sharp, electric-like pain. In addition to pain, spinal stenosis can cause numbness, tingling, and muscle weakness due to compression on the nerve roots, making daily activities challenging and uncomfortable. Symptoms often worsen with activities that involve standing or walking and improve when sitting or leaning forward.

While there is currently no cure for spinal stenosis, the condition can be effectively managed with a variety of treatments. Treatment aims to relieve pain, improve mobility, and enhance the quality of life. Managing spinal stenosis often requires a combination of approaches, including medication, lifestyle changes, interventional pain procedures, and, in some cases, surgical intervention. Early and consistent treatment can help manage symptoms and improve overall functionality, allowing individuals to maintain an active lifestyle.

When and Why You Should See a Pain Care Doctor

If you experience persistent back or neck pain that interferes with your daily life, it's crucial to consult a pain doctor. A pain specialist can provide a comprehensive evaluation, accurate diagnosis, and tailored treatment plan. Early intervention is key to preventing the condition from worsening and maintaining an active lifestyle. A pain doctor can also help manage symptoms more effectively, reducing the need for invasive procedures. They can provide expert guidance on the most appropriate treatments for your specific condition and monitor your progress over time.

Nonsurgical Treatments

Medication Management

Non-surgical treatments for spinal stenosis focus on pain relief and improving mobility. Medications such as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), muscle relaxants, and pain relievers can help manage symptoms. In some cases, corticosteroid injections may be recommended to reduce inflammation and provide temporary pain relief.

Lifestyle Changes

Lifestyle modifications, such as weight management and ergonomic adjustments, can also play a crucial role in alleviating symptoms. Maintaining a healthy weight can reduce stress on the spine, and using supportive seating can help ease discomfort during prolonged sitting.

Interventional Procedures

Epidural Steroid Injections

Epidural steroid injections (ESIs) are a commonly used non-surgical treatment option for spinal stenosis. These injections deliver powerful anti-inflammatory medication directly into the epidural space around the spinal cord and nerves to help reduce inflammation and alleviate pain. The primary goal of an epidural steroid injection is to reduce inflammation in the affected area of the spine. The procedure involves injecting a corticosteroid medication, often combined with a local anesthetic, into the epidural space. The corticosteroid decreases inflammation and swelling, which can help relieve pressure on the nerves and reduce pain. The local anesthetic provides immediate but temporary pain relief, while the corticosteroid may take a few days to provide more prolonged relief.

Indirect Spinal Decompression

Indirect spinal decompression is a non-surgical treatment approach aimed at relieving the symptoms of spinal stenosis by reducing pressure on the spinal cord and nerves. Indirect spinal decompression involves using mechanical devices to gently stretch the spine, increasing the space between the vertebrae and reducing pressure on the spinal nerves. This process helps to improve blood flow, reduce inflammation, and promote healing of the affected areas. The primary goal is to create a negative intradiscal pressure, which can help retract bulging or herniated discs and alleviate compression on the spinal nerves.

The Vertiflex Superion

The Vertiflex Superion is a minimally invasive surgical treatment specifically designed to address lumbar spinal stenosis. It involves implanting a small, flexible device called the Superion Indirect Decompression System into the spine. This device is placed between the vertebrae to create and maintain space in the spinal canal, thereby relieving pressure on the nerves. The Vertiflex Procedure is a minimally invasive surgical treatment specifically designed to alleviate symptoms of lumbar spinal stenosis.

Minimally Invasive Lumbar Decompression

Minimally Invasive Lumbar Decompression (MILD) is a specialized procedure designed to relieve symptoms of lumbar spinal stenosis by removing small pieces of bone and excess ligament tissue that cause spinal canal narrowing. This minimally invasive surgery is performed through a tiny incision, typically about the size of a baby aspirin, using advanced imaging techniques to guide the Kyle, TX, pain surgeon and ensure precision. The MILD procedure aims to increase the space within the spinal canal, thereby reducing pressure on the spinal nerves and alleviating pain.

Surgical Treatment Options

Surgical options may be necessary for those who do not respond to non-surgical treatments. Surgery aims to relieve spinal cord or nerve pressure by creating more space within the spinal canal.

Spinal Cord Stimulation

Spinal Cord Stimulation (SCS) is an advanced treatment option for managing chronic pain caused by spinal stenosis. This procedure involves implanting a small device known as a spinal cord stimulator, which delivers electrical impulses to the spinal cord. These impulses interfere with pain signals traveling to the brain, replacing the pain sensation with a mild, tingling sensation called paresthesia. The process begins with a trial period where temporary electrodes are placed under the skin to evaluate the effectiveness of the stimulation.

Other common surgical procedures include laminectomy, where part of the vertebra is removed to reduce pressure, and spinal fusion, which stabilizes the spine by fusing two or more vertebrae together.

The decision to undergo surgery is made based on the severity of symptoms, overall health, and the specific characteristics of the spinal stenosis. Surgery is typically considered when conservative treatments fail to provide sufficient relief and when the condition significantly impairs quality of life.

Get Help Managing Your Spinal Stenosis at Greater Austin Pain Center

Spinal stenosis can be a challenging condition, but with the right pain management strategies, individuals can effectively treat spinal stenosis and maintain a high quality of life. Consulting with a Kyle pain doctor is crucial for receiving a proper diagnosis and creating an effective treatment plan tailored to individual needs. 

Whether through nonsurgical methods or surgical intervention, there are various ways to manage spinal stenosis in Kyle and alleviate its impact on daily life. Taking proactive steps to manage your condition can improve outcomes and a better quality of life. Contact us today to get started. 

Lunch & Learn With Our Doctors

Curious about interventive pain treatments in Austin, TX? Join our doctors for an in-person lunch and learn session to find out more about these treatments and ask any questions you may have. This event will be 12–1pm, sign up below to receive more details and RSVP.

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