As we age, our spine ages. While this doesn’t generally cause any significant issues, some spines do not age as well as others. One problem that sometimes occurs with aging is a narrowing of the spinal column, also known as spinal stenosis.
Signs and Symptoms of Spinal Stenosis
Spinal stenosis is part of a degenerative condition where the spine narrows over time. The spine then slowly compresses the nerves within it. Signs include radiating pain, numbness or weakness in the areas served by the affected nerves. This compression, and the resulting pain, is also known as radiculopathy. The pain occurs only during certain activities or simply by being in certain positions, such as standing up or sitting down. Oftentimes, the pain is temporarily relieved by rest or leaning forward, but will return as soon as the activity or position is resumed. There are a couple of different types of stenosis:
- Lumbar stenosis occurs in the lower back and produces the symptoms known as sciatica. These symptoms include sharp, searing pain, or numbness in one leg that usually occurs with activities such as walking or long periods of sitting.
- Cervical stenosis occurs in the neck, where there is the risk for compression of the spinal cord, which can lead to paralysis.
No matter what the location of the stenosis, severe degeneration can lead to constant suffering.
Treatments For Spinal Stenosis
Living with chronic pain can affect the quality of your daily life. There are several treatment options available for spinal stenosis. These include:
- Physical therapy and exercise. Remaining active is extremely important, as it prevents further debilitation from occurring.
- Modification of current activities. If certain activities cause pain, they should be avoided or modified. Your doctor may suggest, for example, leaning over on a cart while shopping, changing your exercise regimen, or leaning back rather than sitting straight.
- Anti-inflammatory medications. Many times, you may be advised to use regular over the counter medications, but oral steroids can be prescribed as well.
- Injections. Injections can help relieve swelling and inflammation, and can take pressure off nerves and other soft tissues, which can relieve pain.
- Surgery. Surgery is reserved for the most severe cases of spinal stenosis. It is also considered after all non-surgical treatments have proven ineffective. A laminectomy or discectomy will decompress the spine.
Spinal stenosis can cause some rather uncomfortable radiating pain, numbness and weakness. Although these symptoms can usually be treated with relative ease, more severe cases of spinal stenosis may require surgery. For more information on spinal stenosis, sciatica and radiculopathy symptoms and treatment options, call us today at (973) 669-0078 to get back the life you love.