If you are researching spinal stenosis treatments, the first step in your journey is finding an experienced pain management specialist or doctor who can provide you with an accurate medical diagnosis. Our team of physicians has extensive expertise diagnosing and treating patients with spinal stenosis. Don’t wait, schedule an appointment today!
Spinal stenosis is a condition that occurs when the spaces between the vertebrae of the spine shrink, leading to increased pressure on both the spinal cord and the associated nerves. These spaces between the vertebrae are filled with disks which are normally gel-like and pliable, allowing the spine to move freely through a full range of motion while protecting the spinal nerves. When these disks become compressed and harden, they lose their ability to cushion the bones within the spine, leading to deformation of the spine and narrowing of the spinal cord. Depending on where this narrowing occurs, the resulting pressure can cause back pain and nerve-related discomfort throughout the limbs, neck and shoulder area.
Symptoms of Spinal Stenosis
While some people can have spinal stenosis without noticing any symptoms at all, most experience one or more of the following recurrent symptoms:
- Numbness, pain or weakness in the feet, legs, hands and/or arms.
- Leg cramps, particularly when standing for extended periods of time.
- Problems with balance, strength and mobility.
- Sleep disturbances related to pain and nerve discomfort.
- Bladder and/or bowel dysfunction, including incontinence.
People with spinal stenosis will often experience relief from their symptoms when they change their position, such as leaning forward, which can help relieve pressure on the spine and nerves. Unfortunately, this relief is only temporary. A pain management specialist with expertise in spinal stenosis can provide a diagnosis and map out a long-term treatment plan.
Spinal Stenosis Risk Factors
Generally speaking, spinal stenosis is a degenerative condition related to aging. Most people who are diagnosed with spinal stenosis are over the age of 50, however, it is possible for younger people to develop this condition as well. Congenital defects of the spine, a previous back injury such as a herniated disk or fracture, or arthritis can all increase the risk of developing spinal stenosis at any age. Both malignant and non-malignant tumors on and around the spinal cord as well as bone spurs on the vertebrae can cause swelling of the tissues surrounding the spine, resulting in pressure on the spinal cord and surrounding nerves.
Spinal Stenosis Treatment Options
Spinal stenosis is diagnosed by medical practitioners who specialize in chronic and acute pain. They use a series of standardized (non-invasive) tests including mobility assessments, nerve function tests and neurological checks, all which can be conducted on an out-patient basis in a medical office. Once spinal stenosis is suspected, the medical specialist may order further testing such as a spinal x-ray, MRI or CT scan which will help identify the source of the pressure on the spinal cord.
Spinal stenosis can be treated using a number of traditional and alternative therapies, medication management and/or interventional procedures, including:
- Physical therapy can strengthen and extend the muscles surrounding the spine.
- Nutritional counseling and weight loss can help reduce body fat which places extra pressure on the spine.
- Acupuncture and/or massage therapy can relieve muscle tension.
- Temperature therapy (alternating hot and cold packs) can reduce swelling of the tissues.
- Medications can reduce the swelling, pain and nerve discomfort associated with spinal stenosis.
- Interventional procedures such as steroid injections, nerve blocks and spinal cord stimulator implants may be necessary treatment options.
If you are experiencing any of the symptoms of spinal stenosis, contact one of our local Indianapolis pain management specialists today for a complete examination to determine if you have spinal stenosis. If you are diagnosed with this common condition, our pain management doctors can work with you to develop a customized treatment plan that will help you find relief from this uncomfortable, debilitating condition.
National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases: http://www.niams.nih.gov/health_info/spinal_stenosis/default.asp
Mayo Clinic: http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/spinal-stenosis/DS00515/DSECTION=symptoms
Spine Health: http://www.spine-health.com/conditions/spinal-stenosis/spinal-stenosis-symptoms-and-diagnosis