The narrowing of the spinal canal known as spinal stenosis often occurs because of degenerative changes in your vertebrae and other structures, and may lead to painful pinched nerves. If you have back pain and are looking for an accurate diagnosis, Bart Gatz, MD, and the team at American Interventional Pain Institute in Greenacres, Florida, can help. Dr. Gatz is a distinguished pain medicine specialist providing exceptional services for patients who have spinal stenosis and other back conditions. Request a consultation online or by phone today to learn more.
What is spinal stenosis?
Spinal stenosis is a condition in which your spinal canal narrows, most often as a result of the aging process. Wear and tear over the years affects the discs that sit between your vertebrae and provide cushioning for your spine, meaning they work less efficiently and pressure on your spine increases.
Pressure on the facet joints in your spine reduces the space available for the nerves to travel through the spinal canal, causing pain and other sensory symptoms. This can be made worse if there’s arthritis present as well because the wearing down of cartilage leaves the ends of the bones exposed and able to rub together, causing additional pain and inflammation.
Bone spurs can also develop as a reaction to degenerative changes. Your body produces bone spurs to support the weakened vertebrae, but they tend to make the narrowing problem worse rather than helping to relieve the pressure. Conditions such as Paget's disease of bone, which causes bone overgrowth, herniated discs, spinal tumors, and certain types of spinal trauma can also lead to spinal stenosis.
What are the symptoms of spinal stenosis?
Symptoms of spinal stenosis include:
- Lower back pain
- Pain in your hips, buttocks, and one or both legs
- Sensation of heaviness in your legs
- Weakness, tingling, or cramping
The pain of spinal stenosis is due to the pressure on the nerves in your cauda equina at the bottom of your spinal cord, a condition known as neurogenic claudication. Pain and other symptoms tend to be worse when you walk and improve when you sit down. Leaning forward often helps as it eases the pressure on your spinal nerves.
How is spinal stenosis treated?
The main aim of your treatment at American Interventional Pain Institute is to relieve the pressure on your spinal nerves. Several therapies can help achieve this, including:
- Physical therapy
- Stretching exercises
- Therapeutic massage
- Anti-inflammatory medications
- Steroid injections
- Radiofrequency ablation
Most patients who have spinal stenosis respond well to these conservative therapies, but in some cases, decompression or laminectomy surgery are needed to relieve persistent symptoms.
If you have any symptoms of spinal stenosis or other back pain problems, call American Interventional Pain Institute or schedule a consultation online today.