What is spinal stenosis, and what are the causes?
Spinal stenosis is the narrowing of the spaces in your spinal column. This creates pressure on the spinal nerves and causes pain in your neck and lower back. The condition affects 8-11% of the population, and it most likely occurs in people over age 50.
While injuries and genetics contribute to some cases of spinal stenosis, a gradual, degenerative aging process is the most likely cause. As you grow older, tissues in your spine may thicken and calcify. Bones and joints may also enlarge, compressing the nerves.
Typical causes of spinal stenosis
- Osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis prompt overgrowth of bone into the spinal canal.
- Paget’s disease, a bone disease that usually affects adults, can cause abnormal bone destruction and regrowth.
- Herniated discs may place pressure on the spinal cord or nerve root.
- Thickened ligaments can bulge into the spinal canal.
- Tumors can lead to bone loss due to cell overactivity or displacement of bone
What are the symptoms, and how do they progress?
Many patients do not see any sign of spinal stenosis, but symptoms generally progress gradually over time. You might experience
- numbness or weakness in your hand, arm, foot, or leg
- balance problems
- chronic pain in your neck or back
- leg pain or cramping when you stand for long periods of time or when you walk
- in severe cases, bowel or bladder dysfunction
To diagnose spinal stenosis, your doctor will discuss your medical history and conduct a physical examination. Imaging tests such as X-rays, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), and computed tomography (CT) scans can help provide more detail.
What are some home remedy solutions?
Treating spinal stenosis on your own is possible depending on the severity of the symptoms. Over-the-counter pain relievers and hot or cold packs may temporarily relieve pain and inflammation. Overweight patients would benefit from exercising and dieting to take stress off the back and open up the spine. A cane can also help with pain management by allowing you to lean forward while walking.
Treating Spinal Stenosis at NWA Interventional Pain
Muscle relaxers and pain medicines only provide short term relief and carry serious risks when used over long periods. We often start patients off with physical therapy. In their efforts to reduce pain, patients with spinal stenosis tend to become less active, which causes more pain due to muscle weakness. Physical therapy helps you build strength and endurance, maintain flexibility, and improve balance.
Our pain treatment clinic will also employ interventional techniques such as epidural steroid injections. The corticosteroid can deposit powerful anti-inflammatory medication near the pressure points around irritated and swollen nerve roots. Because repeated steroid injections can weaken bones and connective tissue, it’s important to have the procedure performed at a pain treatment center by a Fellowship Trained Interventional Pain Doctor. We are part of a select class who has pursued additional training to provide you with state of the art care.
What sort of problems can occur after pain treatment?
Steroid injections do not work for everyone, so you should maintain an open dialogue with the pain control clinic about the progress of your treatment. If your symptoms become more severe, you develop a fever of over 101, or you notice redness or drainage at the injection site, you should call your pain doctor or go to the nearest ER.