In world of medical terminology, there are a lot of tongue-twisters!
Spinal stenosis is one of them. Most people get that it is a condition of the spine, but get lost at “stenosis.” The word “stenosis” comes from the Greek term “stenos” and its derivatives, “stenoun” and “stenosis.” These three terms mean “narrow,” “make narrow,” and “narrowing.” In short, spinal stenosis is a narrowing of the spine.
What do we mean when we say narrowing of the spine? Well, the nerves of the spinal column travel along the spine in a canal of sorts. When spinal stenosis occurs, the canal gets smaller, squeezing the spinal column. As a result, the nerves cause pain in the lower back and legs. At the Spine Institute of North America, we are very familiar with this condition, and we want to use today’s blog to answer some commonly-asked questions about spinal stenosis!
Who gets spinal stenosis?
This spinal disorder usually shows up in people 50 years of age or older. Sometimes, it shows up in younger people who were born with it or suffered accidents.
What causes spinal stenosis?
How does a spine start to narrow down? Why does this happen? Well, it can happen for several reasons (and that is why it is so very important to get a professional in your corner). Generally, stenosis happens when age degenerates ligaments and joints. More importantly, the gelatinous padding (discs) between each vertebra start to flatten out. As the discs deflate, the spine shortens and the vertebrae have to take a lot more pressure than normal. As a result, the vertebrae develop bone spurs that fill up the spinal canal and squeeze the sensitive rope of nerves. To learn more about other conditions that can cause spinal stenosis, make an appointment with us!
How do I know if I have spinal stenosis?
Spinal stenosis affects your nerves, so you can expect your symptoms to show up there. Symptoms include neck pain, back pain, weakness, numbness, and shooting pains. The pain may show up far from the spine, in your arms or legs. Both the upper and lower body can be affected, but it depends on which section of your spine is actually narrowing. If your lumbar spine (lower back) is affected, you may experience sciatica. On the other hand, stenosis in the cervical spine (upper back and neck) can create symptoms as extreme as partial paralysis.
How do we treat spinal stenosis?
Because stenosis can happen due to such a wide array of injuries and illnesses, treatment looks different for different people. Diagnosis is key. Depending on how severe the spinal stenosis is, you may end up just taking pain killers and doing exercises to strengthen your back. On the other end of the spectrum, you may need surgery to find relief. Minimally invasive spine surgery is often thought to relieve the pressure on the spinal cord.
You have to find an expert before you can trust a diagnosis. At the Spine Institute of North America, we are proud to be those experts. Not only do we specialize in tailored solutions for each patient, we are also a leading team for minimally invasive spine surgery. Learn more today!