Spinal stenosis means narrowing of the spinal canal (spinal cavity) where the spinal cord resides, or narrowing of the neural foramina (openings) where spinal nerves exit the spinal column. The narrower the spinal canal becomes, the less room the spinal cord has. If the spinal canal is narrowed to the point that the spinal cord is compressed, spinal stenosis symptoms will start to bother you.
Spinal stenosis symptoms vary depending on the location of the stenosis. If the stenosis occurs in the neck, symptoms may include neck or shoulder pain, and numbness or tingling in the arm or hand. If the stenosis takes place in the lower back, symptoms may include back pain, and cramping or weakness in the leg, which gets worse when you walk or after you stand for a long period. In severe cases, spinal stenosis can even cause a loss of bowel and/or bladder control.
Who Gets Spinal Stenosis?
Spinal stenosis is considered an aging-related problem. As we age, the spine gradually degenerates. In fact, approximately 95% of the people over the age of 50 have degenerative changes in their spines. And these changes are the most common causes of spinal stenosis. Although spinal stenosis affects mostly older people, it can occur in young people who are born with a narrowing spinal canal. So in a sense, nobody is immune to spinal stenosis.
What Spinal Stenosis Treatment Options Do We Have?
Spinal stenosis treatment options include conservative treatment options and surgical treatment options. Common conservative treatment options include anti-inflammatory and anti-pain medication, physical therapy, corticosteroid injection, and alternative treatment such as acupuncture. Surgical treatment options include minimally invasive surgery such as the procedures offered at the Atlantic Spinal Care and invasive open surgery such as fusion (2 or more vertebrae permanently fixed together).
Why Is an Early Spinal Stenosis Diagnosis Important?
The truth is if left untreated, spinal stenosis will get worse over time. To start timely treatment you must have an early spinal stenosis diagnosis. With an early spinal stenosis diagnosis, you can enjoy the following benefits.
- More spinal stenosis treatment options. With an early spinal stenosis diagnosis, patients are more likely to have both conservative and surgical treatment options to choose from. In many cases, patients may not even need surgery. But if diagnosed late, especially when the condition has caused the spine to become instable, fusion surgery may be required, which will eliminate the motion of the affected area.
- Better prognosis. For spinal stenosis diagnosed at an early stage, conservative spinal stenosis treatment such as pain medication may be able to effectively help reduce the pain. Physical therapy combined with exercise and stretching can help strength the muscle, reduce pressure, and slow down the degenerative process of the spine. And even if surgery is needed for your condition, you have the advantage of choosing less invasive surgical options associated with minimal invasiveness, fast recovery, and excellent surgical results.
- Higher chance of preserving activity. Studies have shown that an early and accurate spinal stenosis diagnosis is critical in preserving activity, especially in the elderly population.
So, if you think you might have spinal stenosis, have it checked out immediately. At Atlantic Spinal Care, we have specially designed a free online Pain Evaluation Tool to help thousands of patients like you. Take advantage of the free tool, and start your spinal stenosis diagnosis process now.