Spinal stenosis is a condition in which the spinal canal narrows to compress the spinal cord and nerves. This may cause symptoms like back pain and stiffness with radiation of pain down the arms and legs. The condition generally gets worse as you age and can cause significant disability. Here’s what to expect after a spinal stenosis diagnosis.
The spinal canal is like a rigid bony passage along which the nerves run down from the brain to other parts of the body. Age related degenerative changes or arthritis can result in the formation of bone spurs, disc bulges and other bone deformities which causes pinching of the nerves.
Typically patients that have spinal stenosis may report no pain when sitting down, but when going from a sitting to a standing position, they may develop shooting pain that goes all the way down the legs or arms depending on where the nerve impingement occurs.
Most of the time when patients have back pain or neck pain, it goes away within 6-8 weeks. If the painful symptoms go on for longer than that, then advanced imaging tests such as an MRI or other studies may be ordered to confirm a diagnosis of spinal stenosis, which may have been suspected from the symptoms.
Treatment starts with conservative measures unless there is a specific neurologic deficit such as weakness in the extremities which suggests the motor nerves are affected. Conservative care could be in the form of pain medications, anti-inflammatory medications, or muscle relaxants for a few weeks. If that does not work, then physical therapy to strengthen the muscles that support the spine and cortisone or epidural injections to reduce pain and stiffness may be tried. Surgery will only be considered if all conservative methods fail to relieve symptoms.
During surgery, minimally invasive methods can be used to unroof the spine and parts of the bone pressing on the nerve can be removed or reshaped. The procedure generally makes patients feel dramatically better. Spinal decompression procedures in the right patients have a very high success rate.
Is worsening back pain and stiffness affecting your quality of life? Book an appointment for an in-depth evaluation and personalized treatment recommendation.
Dr Payam Moazzaz specializes in advanced minimally invasive spine surgery that enables faster recovery and a quicker return to an active lifestyles. For all appointments and inquiries, please call .