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Narrowing of the Spine: What to Know About Spinal Stenosis

Spinal stenosis is a condition classified by the narrowing of the spine. When your spinal canal is too narrow, it can compress the spinal cord and nerves, leading to a number of uncomfortable and painful symptoms. 

At The Spine Pro, we understand the risk factors, causes, and symptoms of spinal stenosis. We work with patients to reduce pain, increase mobility, and improve their quality of life. Through our advanced treatments, expert knowledge, and outstanding care, we can help you find the relief you deserve from spinal stenosis.

Symptoms of Spinal Stenosis

Sometimes there are no symptoms associated with the narrowing the spine, but if they do occur, they start slowly and worsen over time. Symptoms may be worse when standing or walking and tend to improve when sitting or leaning forward. Common symptoms may include:

  • Pain in the legs, lower back, neck, or buttocks
  • Numbness or tingling in the legs, hands, and feet
  • Weakness in the legs or arms
  • Difficulty with balance or coordination
  • Loss of bladder or bowel control

If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, it is important to seek medical attention as soon as possible. A healthcare provider can diagnose spinal stenosis and recommend treatment options and preventative measures to alleviate your symptoms.

What Causes Narrowing of the Spine?

There are several factors that may cause narrowing of the spine. One of the most common causes is the natural aging process, which may lead to the degeneration of the spine. As a result, this condition is most common among people over 50. However, spinal narrowing may occur earlier and, in some cases, can be present at birth. The causes of spinal stenosis include:

Wear and Tear

As mentioned above, age-related wear and tear of the spine is a common cause of spinal narrowing. This degenerative process is known as spondylosis and involves abnormal wear of the cartilage and neck bones (cervical vertebrae). As the degeneration of the spine progresses, the bones and tissues in your spine may enlarge, causing the narrowing of the spinal canal.

Bone Spurs

Bone spurs may also cause narrowing of the spine. These are bony growths that form on the vertebrae and can press on the spinal cord and nerves, causing pain and creating less space within the spinal canal. Arthritis, a degenerative joint disorder, is the most common cause of bone spurs. Furthermore, Paget’s disease may also cause bone spurs to form.

Herniated Discs

Your spinal discs act as shock absorbers between the bones in your spine, providing cushioning and protection for the nerves. A herniated disc occurs when a spinal disc ruptures or is pushed out of place. This typically occurs as a result of injury, trauma, or aging. When this happens, the herniated disc may press on the nerves in your spinal cord and narrow your spinal canal.

Thick Ligaments

Ligaments are bands of tissue that connect bones to other bones and are found throughout the body, including in the spine. Your spinal ligaments are designed to provide stability and cushioning for your spine. However, these ligaments may become thicker over time due to genetics, aging, and injuries. If the ligaments in the spine become too thick or enlarged, they may cause the spinal canal to narrow, leading to pain, numbness, and weakness in the back, neck, legs, and arms.

Spinal Injuries

Car accidents, falls, sports injuries, and other traumatic events may cause damage to the bones, discs, ligaments, and spine muscles. This may lead to the development of spinal stenosis. Therefore, if you have experienced a spinal injury, it is crucial to be evaluated by a healthcare provider. 

How to Treat Narrowing of the Spine

Treatment may include medications, physical therapy, injections, or even surgery. If you have spinal stenosis or are worried you may be at risk, it is important to speak with your doctor about treatment options and preventive measures you can take. Managing the condition may include:

Physical Therapy

Physical therapy may help alleviate spinal stenosis symptoms such as pain, numbness, and weakness in the back, legs, and arms. Using physical therapy for spinal stenosis may involve a range of exercises and techniques, including:

  • Stretching exercises to improve flexibility and reduce muscle tension
  • Strengthening exercises to improve the strength and stability of the spine
  • Low-impact cardio exercises to improve circulation and reduce pain
  • Manual therapy to improve mobility and reduce muscle spasms
  • Heat and cold therapy to reduce inflammation and pain
  • Electrical stimulation to reduce muscle spasms and improve circulation

In addition to these specific exercises and techniques, physical therapists may also recommend lifestyle changes, such as losing weight and quitting smoking, to help reduce the risk of developing spinal stenosis or worsening existing stenosis.

Anti-inflammatory Medications

Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) may also be used to reduce inflammation and pain associated with the narrowing of the spine. Speak to your doctor about the pros and cons of taking these medications, as they may have potential side effects.

Spinal Injections

Spinal injections are a type of treatment that involves the injection of a medication directly into the spinal canal or around the affected nerves. There are several types of spinal injections that may be used, including steroid injections, nerve blocks, and facet joint injections. Steroid injections contain a type of medication called a corticosteroid, which may reduce inflammation and swelling in the spine. Nerve blocks are used to numb the affected nerves and provide temporary relief from pain. Facet joint injections are used to numb the facet joints, which are small joints located in the spine that can become inflamed and cause pain.

Spinal injections may be used alone or in combination with other treatments, such as physical therapy and pain medication, to help alleviate symptoms of spinal stenosis. It is important to discuss the benefits and risks of spinal injections with a healthcare provider to determine if this treatment is right for you.

Surgical Options

If conservative treatments are unsuccessful in relieving symptoms, surgery may be recommended. Surgical options for spinal stenosis may include decompressive laminectomy, microlaminectomy, medial facetectomy, and microfacetectomy. In some cases, a spinal fusion may be used to stabilize the spine. Speak with your doctor about the pros and cons of each potential procedure to make an informed decision about which treatment is best for you. 

Treat Your Spinal Stenosis with The Spine Pro

If you are experiencing symptoms of spinal narrowing, it is essential to seek treatment as soon as possible. The Spine Pro is a leading provider of spinal stenosis treatment, with a team of experienced professionals who can help you find relief. Our team is led by Dr. Hooman Melamed, a renowned spine specialist who has helped countless patients find relief from the symptoms associated with the narrowing of the spine.

Dr. Melamed and the team at The Spine Pro will work with you to develop a personalized treatment plan that addresses your specific needs and goals. Don’t let a narrowing of the spine control your life any longer. Our team is dedicated to helping you find relief and live a pain-free life. Take control of your health and book an appointment with The Spine Pro today.