Spinal stenosis is a painful condition of the spine that many people experience, either due to age, injury or spinal malformations. Fortunately, treatment options are available to help with spinal stenosis pain management in NJ.
What Is Spinal Stenosis?
Spinal stenosis is a condition where the spinal canal, the bone around the spinal cord, narrows, putting pressure on the spinal cord and nerves and causing back pain. In most cases, the condition affects the lower back or neck. Some symptoms associated with spinal stenosis include:
- Numbness in the extremities
- Issues with coordination of the limbs
- Weakness of the limbs
- Difficulty with bowel or bladder control
- Pain in the neck and shoulders or in the low back and glutes
How Does Spinal Stenosis Happen?
Spinal stenosis is attributed to a variety of causes. While it most often occurs in people over the age of 50 as an age-related condition, younger populations suffering from spinal degeneration, spinal injuries, disc bulges, disc herniation or synovial cysts may also experience spinal stenosis.
Osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis are also common causes of spinal stenosis, as both conditions result in the inflammation of the joints in the spine. Some cases are also the result of heredity, as some individuals are born with narrowing spinal canals and structural malformations.
What Are The Symptoms Of Spinal Stenosis?
Spinal stenosis can present with many different symptoms. The symptoms are mainly determined by severity and location in the spine. Here are the most common symptoms:
- Sciatica – Pain that shoots down one or both legs that may start as an ache in the lower back or buttocks
- Foot Drop – A term that refers to a weakening of the muscles that allow for flexing of the ankle and toes. The result of foot drop may cause a person to “drag” their foot on the ground.
- Trouble With Standing Or Walking – Spinal stenosis can compress the spinal nerves and cause pain while you stand for long periods of time.
- Loss Of Bowel And Bladder Control – Cauda equina syndrome is a severe condition that comes with extreme pressure and swelling of the spinal nerves. It can cause loss of control of the bladder and bowel, and immediate medical attention is needed.
- Tingling Sensation – Spinal stenosis can compress the spinal nerves in the back and neck causing tingling symptoms in the legs or arms and hands.
How Is Spinal Stenosis Diagnosed?
Spinal stenosis diagnosis requires a complete review of a patient’s medical history and a physical examination, during which time the physician will review the patient’s symptoms to determine if and where the spinal cord is compressed. Following the initial diagnosis, they may order imaging tests to confirm, including X-Ray, MRI, CT or Myelogram imaging tests. Once the location and cause of the compression are identified, the physician can then move on to spinal stenosis treatment.
What Are the Treatment Options for Spinal Stenosis?
Spinal stenosis treatment in NJ often starts with nonoperative pain management, such as anti-inflammatory medications, physical therapy, weight reduction or epidural injections. If these treatment options prove unsuccessful, the physician may then consider spinal stenosis surgery. In our NJ office, several surgical options are available to help make more room for the spine by removing bone or ligaments.
- Pain Medications – Anti-inflammatory medication, muscle relaxers and on rare occasions narcotic pain medications
- Alternating Heat/Cold Therapy – During the first 24-48 hours.
- Physical Therapy – Exercises to include: stretching, massage, and strengthening.
- Chiropractic Care – Patients may find relief in seeing a chiropractor for re-aligning and improving motion in “locked” joints.
- Epidural Steroid Injection – Used to relieve inflammation of the spinal nerve and diagnostically to confirm the correct spinal level at which the pain originates from.
Least Invasive Procedures
If pain persists after conservative treatment and interventional spine injections, and there is evidence by CT Scan, MRI or X-ray or neurological deficit, then surgical intervention is usually recommended. The following least invasive procedures treat spinal stenosis with a high success rate through the removal of compressed tissue:
- Endoscopic Spinal Stenosis Decompression: With a ¼ inch incision, our spine specialist can enter the spinal canal without disturbing or cutting muscle. With an HD camera/scope in an arthroscopy environment, the doctor can directly observe and decompresses boney lamina and bone spurs that compress the spinal nerves. Recovery is superior to laminectomy or laminotomy, with most patients returning to work within 2-3 weeks.
- Endoscopic Laminotomy: After making a 1-2 centimeter incision, our doctor can observe and open the small area of the lamina above and below the spinal disc using an HD camera/scope. The specialist can then also remove any thickened ligaments to relieve painful nerve compression and remove any herniated disc or bone spur causing additional pain. Patients are free to leave the clinic on the same day as the procedure, and most return to work within three months.
Vertiflex’s Superion is another least invasive alternative that requires no bone work or tissue removal. As an indirect decompression device, the Superion implant is planted between the vertebrae and holds them open to relieve pressure. Our specialist inserts the device through a small tube the size of a dime, which reduces blood loss and damage to the surrounding tissue and allows for fast recovery.
This solution is ideal for patients who have undergone six months of non-operative treatments without relief or for those who find traditional spinal surgery options too demanding.
Minimally Invasive Spine Surgery
In some cases, spinal stenosis may be so severe that it may not be able to be treated with our least invasive techniques, and therefore we use some of the minimally invasive techniques widely used by spine surgeons across the world.
- MIS Lumbar Discectomy/Laminectomy – The goal of the minimally invasive technique is to decompress the bony lamina and facets that are pressing on the spinal nerves.
- MIS Transforaminal Lumbar Interbody Fusion (TLIF) – This minimally invasive spine fusion provides stability for the spine and complete decompression of spinal stenosis and any pressure on the nerves at this level.
- Anterior Cervical Discectomy and Fusion (ACDF) – The goal of an ACDF surgery is to remove pressure on the spinal cord and spinal nerves while stabilizing the affected spinal disc. The ACDF procedure has a 90% success rate.
Why Choose the Spine Institute of North America?
If you’re interested in pursuing spinal stenosis pain relief in NJ, the Spine Institute of North America is here for you. Our leading practitioners are masters of various surgical procedures that are designed to help you relieve your pain and revive your life.
We’ll work with you, laying out all of your treatment options and explaining them to you, so that you completely understand your choices and what they mean for you and your treatment plan. Our providers will do everything they can to ensure you are getting the best, least-invasive surgical procedure possible so you can enjoy a short recovery time as well as reduced pain.
If you want to learn more about how we can help you with your spinal stenosis pain management in NJ, contact our helpful staff to set up an appointment.
View other back pain conditions: