What is Spinal Stenosis?
Spinal stenosis is a condition in which there is a narrowing of the spinal canal. When the spinal canal is narrowed, this can place pressure on the nerves as they exit the canal and go to the arms or legs. Stenosis can occur throughout the spine but is most common in the cervical and lumbar regions.
How does Spinal Stenosis affect the body?
In some cases, patients with stenosis may not experience any symptoms. Stenosis can lead to developing pain in the legs, especially when walking long distances, as well as numbness, tingling, or in severe cases, weakness.
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- Trauma to the spine
- Disc herniations
- Thickened ligaments in the spine
- Back or neck pain
- Pain in arms or legs when walking long distances that improves after sitting or bending forward
- Tingling in the arms and legs
- Numbness of the arms and legs
- Weakness of the arms and legs
- Epidural steroid injections
- Physical therapy
- Indirect Spinal Decompression (e.g. Vertiflex Superion)
- Spinal Cord Stimulation
- Surgery (reserved for severe cases)
Treatment for Spinal Stenosis in the Greater Austin Area
Most spinal stenosis can be managed with conservative and pain management measures. However, patients with severe stenosis or who develop certain symptoms including weakness of the legs, bowel or bladder incontinence, or who fail conservative measures may require surgery to decompress the area of stenosis in the spine. Conservative management may include multimodal therapy including medications, fluoroscopically guided injections, physical therapy or chiropractic therapy, and other interventional options such as minimally invasive indirect spinal decompression (ex Vertiflex) or spinal cord stimulation.
Epidural steroid injections are a commonly utilized therapy for spinal stenosis. These injections aim to target the compressed nerve roots by injecting corticosteroids in the epidural space near the nerves. By doing so, patients often experience significant pain relief from inflammation caused by spinal stenosis.
Am I at Risk of Developing Spinal Stenosis?
Spinal stenosis can develop in anyone, however, because it is most commonly due to age-related changes, it is most often seen in patients over the age of fifty. It also typically will affect women more than men. Other factors that can increase the risk of developing spinal stenosis include a narrow spinal canal, previous spine injury or spine surgery, spinal tumors, and conditions like scoliosis and Paget’s disease.
Frequently Asked Questions
Spinal stenosis is most commonly caused by age-related changes and there is not much that can be done to prevent spinal stenosis from occurring, however, you can take precautionary measures to help lower the risk of developing spinal stenosis. Some ways to help lower your risk include getting regular exercise, stretching, maintaining a healthy weight, and maintaining good posture.
Many conservative therapies, including medications, physical therapy, and injection therapy, all can help manage spinal stenosis. Surgical intervention is only required in rare circumstances if these conservative therapies are ineffective or if you have severe stenosis with symptoms such as leg weakness or bowel or bladder incontinence.
Spinal stenosis can be diagnosed by your healthcare provider through your medical history, physical examination, and imaging of your spine. Imaging studies that your healthcare provider may order to diagnose spinal stenosis include X-Ray, MRI, CT scan, or a myelogram.
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Treat Your Spinal Stenosis at Greater Austin Pain Center
At Greater Austin Pain Center, our team has treated countless patients suffering from spinal stenosis. If you think you may be experiencing the symptoms of spinal stenosis, reach out to us today online or over the phone. We look forward to meeting you and treating your spinal stenosis.