Spinal stenosis is a condition occasioned by the narrowing the spinal canal. When it occurs in the upper vertebrae, it’s called “cervical” stenosis and in the lower vertebrae, “lumber” stenosis. These are the most common locations for the condition to manifest, but it can be found anywhere in the spine.
It’s possible for spinal stenosis to be a congenital problem (passed on at birth), but it generally affects people aged 50 and over. Aging and the wear and tear with it can cause, is a common reason behind the characteristic narrowing of the spinal canal.
A genetic predisposition to spinal stenosis is usually found to be at fault, whether patients are born with it, or develop the condition later in life.
There are no symptoms associated with the actual narrowing of the spinal canal. Symptoms arise when the nerves associated with spinal structures are placed under pressure, resulting in pain.
Pain can be experienced in the buttocks and legs, sometimes with numbness and heaviness, as well. Pain can often increase as the result of walking (even for short distances). Relief is found by sitting down, lying prone, or bending forward from the waist.
Pain either radiates upwards or starts higher in the body and radiates down (much like sciatica). Sometimes, stenosis sufferers experience cramping, instead of radiating pain.
Diagnosis and treatment.
To rule out other spinal conditions with similar symptomatic profiles, doctors usually call on a complex of diagnostic protocols. These include a review of the patient’s medical history and instances of spinal issues which may run in the family.
X-rays, MRIs and CAT scans can also figure into the diagnosis of spinal stenosis, as well as bone scans (but only in conjunction with other diagnostics).
Treatment for spinal stenosis ranges from drug therapy to surgery, with many modalities in between the two. Physical therapy and injection therapy can also be employed. Corticosteroid injections have found to be highly effective for some patients.
When surgery is indicated, the most common procedure called on is decompressive laminectomy, but there are several surgical models which may be applied.
Spine Care in NJ.
If you believe you may be suffering from either cervical or lumbar spinal stenosis and have knowledge of a family history of the condition, we invite you to contact us to schedule a consultation with one of our specialized team.
For those concerned about the prospect of surgery, they should know that Spine Consult NJ will only recommend surgery after conservative and minimally-invasive treatments have been attempted.
At Spine Consult New Jersey, we treat all conditions of the spine with thoughtful, tailored care that addresses the individual patient need.