- What Is Spinal Stenosis?
- Spinal Stenosis Symptoms
- Causes of Spinal Stenosis
- Diagnosing Spinal Stenosis
- Spinal Stenosis Treatment
Spinal stenosis is a degenerative narrowing of the spinal canal that can place pressure on the spinal cord and/or nerve roots. This pressure may cause discomfort, pain, numbness, and weakness in the extremities, which can interfere with daily activities, limit mobility, and diminish quality-of-life. There are many reasons that spinal stenosis may develop, and understanding the root cause of your discomfort is critical to developing a customized treatment plan for relief.
At Garden State Orthopaedic Associates, our orthopaedic surgeons are experienced in the diagnosis and treatment of spinal stenosis and a range of other spinal conditions. Through a review of your medical history, a physical examination, discussion of symptoms, and diagnostic testing, it is possible to determine the likely cause of the condition, the location of the stenosis, and the degree of nerve compression.
For those diagnosed with spinal stenosis, our orthopaedic surgeons may recommend non-surgical treatments, spine surgery, or a combination of surgical and non-surgical therapies to facilitate optimal healing. The ultimate goal of treatment is to alleviate symptoms, relieve nerve pressure, and prevent worsening of the condition.
If you are concerned about spinal stenosis and want to learn more about the condition, we encourage you to explore the informational sections provided below. To schedule a consultation with one of our orthopaedic specialists, please contact our office.
What Is Spinal Stenosis?
Spinal stenosis is a condition in which the spinal canal becomes restricted and compresses the spinal cord or nerve roots that run through it. The narrowing of the spinal canal may result from injury to or deterioration of spinal disks, bones, or joints. Patients with spinal stenosis may report a variety of uncomfortable and problematic symptoms experienced in the back and limbs that might fluctuate or increase in severity over time. The condition is typically degenerative, which means that without some degree of therapeutic intervention, symptoms often worsen.
Symptoms of Spinal Stenosis
Patients affected by spinal stenosis can experience a broad range of symptoms which are related to the location of the narrowing and intensity of the nerve compression. Common symptoms by region include:
Cervical stenosis (neck):
- Numbness, pain, tingling, weakness, and/or loss of dexterity in the arms.
- Imbalance and/or lack of coordination.
- In severe cases, patients may become incontinent.
Thoracic stenosis (mid-back):
- Aching or pain in the ribs, mid-back, and/or along the back and/or legs.
- Numbness and tingling in the upper chest, shoulder blades, lower back, and/or abdomen.
- Pain in the abdomen or organs.
- Weakness and loss of coordination in the legs.
Lumbar stenosis (lower back):
- Pain, weakness, numbness, and/or tingling in the lower back, buttocks, legs, and/or feet.
- Difficulty walking and/or loss of leg function.
- In severe cases, patients can lose bladder and/or bowel control.
Individuals who are experiencing these symptoms are encouraged to contact our office to schedule an appointment with one of our experienced orthopaedic surgeons. Our doctors’ extensive training and expertise allow them to properly diagnose the cause of your discomfort and develop an effective treatment program.
Causes of Spinal Stenosis
Determining the exact cause of spinal stenosis is sometimes complicated; however, most cases are related to aging of the spine or arthritis. Trauma to the spine is another risk factor for the development of spinal stenosis, as dislocation of vertebrae or bone fragments can disturb the spinal canal and instigate progressive narrowing of the spinal canal. Tumors that develop along the spine or inside the spinal canal can also cause compression of the spinal cord or nerve roots. For some patients, congenital defects affecting the size of the spinal canal or the shape of the vertebrae may lead to spinal stenosis.
Diagnosis of Spinal Stenosis
When patients come to Garden State Orthopaedic Associates with symptoms of spinal stenosis, it is critical that our orthopaedic specialists perform a comprehensive evaluation that can lead to proper diagnosis and accurate treatment. There are many other spinal conditions that present similar symptoms to spinal stenosis, making it crucial to rule out other possibilities before proceeding with treatment. At the time of your consultation, you will meet with one of our orthopaedic surgeons who has a specialized focus on spinal concerns. Together you will discuss the symptoms you are experiencing, carefully review your medical history, and detail any spinal trauma you may have endured. Next, a thorough physical examination and diagnostic imaging studies, which may include X-rays, CT scans, MRIs, and other appropriate testing, will be performed to identify the nature and status of your condition. Using the information collected, your orthopaedic surgeon can develop a customized treatment plan aimed at delivering a positive outcome.
Spinal Stenosis Treatment Options
Once you have received your diagnosis, your orthopaedic surgeon will discuss your treatment options. Typically, non-surgical methods are recommended as part of the initial phase of treatment. Non-surgical techniques may include anti-inflammatory medications, resting, steroid injections, custom orthotics, and physical therapy. Should these minimally invasive methods prove to be inadequate, you may decide to explore the surgical options that are available to you. At Garden State Orthopaedic Associates, our board certified surgeons are experienced in all of the latest surgical approaches for treating spinal stenosis, and can guide you toward a solution that is best suited for the specifics of your condition. Our practice can also provide you with the comprehensive post-operative care that is necessary for making a full recovery.
If back pain, numbness, or weakness is disrupting your life, we encourage you to schedule an appointment with one of our orthopaedic specialists. Together you will have the opportunity to discover the cause of your discomfort and embark on an effective course of treatment with the goal of restoring comfort, mobility, and quality-of-life.