Spinal stenosis is defined as abnormal narrowing of the spinal canal. This may arise when bones, ligaments, or other tissues make the space inside the spinal canal or foramina smaller, which in turn irritates or pinches your spinal nerves.
The most common cause of spinal stenosis is age-related change that may include increases in the size of your bones and joints, hardening and thickening of the ligaments that help support your spine, the formation of bone overgrowths (called bone spurs), and bulging or herniated discs.
Potential symptoms of spinal stenosis include back or neck pain, pain that radiates down your leg, arm or leg weakness, a weakening of the foot (called foot drop), and muscle cramping or numbness that appears in your back, neck, arms, legs, buttocks or shoulders. In many cases, your symptoms may be triggered or grow more intense if you walk or stand, and subside if you lean your body forward or sit. Spinal stenosis symptoms usually only affect a single side of the body, and will frequently become more pronounced with age. Some people develop a dangerous form of lower back stenosis, known as cauda equina syndrome. Symptoms of this severe form of spinal stenosis can include sexual impotence, bladder or bowel dysfunction, and numbness, pain or weakness that affects the legs.
North American Spine partner physicians have the broadest range of minimally invasive solutions for your back or neck pain. Depending on the location and severity of your pain, your treatment will fall into one of the following categories:
- Decompression: Minimally invasive decompression surgery aims to relieve pressure on the spinal nerves. This pressure can be caused by many conditions. Using a surgical laser, if necessary, soft tissue will be removed and pressure on nerves will be relieved. For more on decompression, see Decompression.
- Stabilization/Fusion: Minimally invasive stabilization/fusion surgery aims to restore spinal stability lost to collapsed discs. Diseased material is removed and stability is regained by fusing vertebrae or replacing diseased material with specialized hardware. For more on stabilization, see Stablization.
- Injections: Injections aim to reduce inflammation, block pain, and/or aid in the regeneration of healthy nerve passages. These procedures often are not permanent solutions, but they may be repeated when pain returns. They are extremely quick procedures with virtually no recovery time.
- Other Procedures: North American Spine partner physicians may suggest other types of procedures, including the placement of a Spinal Cord Stimulator, an implanted device that blocks the pain signals created by a variety of conditions. For more on our other procedures, see Other Procedures.
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