Spinal stenosis is when nerves are compressed by an abnormal buildup of bone and tissue around the spine. It’s most commonly seen in people in their 70s or 80s but can also occur in younger people. The most common symptoms of spinal stenosis include pain in the lower back, buttocks, and legs. It can also present an intense ache that radiates into the feet or even cause “electric shocks” to go through the feet and legs. Patients may experience numbness, weakness, and an overall sense of not feeling well in their bodies. Stenosis can also cause bowel and bladder problems, including constipation and urinary urgency. If you have been diagnosed with this condition, you should see an interventional pain specialist in Houston for proper diagnosis and treatment.
Causes of Spinal Stenosis
Spinal stenosis is primarily caused by arthritis. The first steps of the arthritic process, known as “degenerative joint disease,” include mechanical wear and tear, which can narrow the spinal canal. Long-term use of steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs has also been linked to an increased risk of developing spinal stenosis. Other possible causes are trauma, tumors, and in some cases, infections.
Symptoms of Spinal Stenosis
The main symptom in patients with spinal stenosis is pain in the lower back, legs, or feet. The pain can be a dull ache or an excruciatingly painful sensation that worsens when standing up after several hours of sitting down. Other common symptoms are feeling tired after walking only a short distance, loss of bowel or bladder control, an inability to stand for extended periods, and tingling sensations in the feet.
Diagnosis of Spinal Stenosis
Your doctor or neurologist can perform a proper diagnosis with various tests, including CT scans, MRIs, and Myelography. Even though spinal stenosis is typically diagnosed with imaging, your doctor may order nerve tests to look at the function of your muscles and sensory nerves. A back brace can also reduce pain by supporting the spine and reducing compression on it.
Treatment for Spinal Stenosis
One of the most effective treatments for this condition is spinal fusion surgery. This procedure can be used to remove the pressure from the nerve roots and stabilize the spine. Other options include various injection procedures, pain medications, or epidural injections. Exercise after a spinal stenosis diagnosis is essential for health improvement and the overall wellness of your body. It has been shown that moderate exercise such as water aerobics can help reduce pain and stiffness in affected parts of the body. In most cases, spinal stenosis is not a life-threatening condition and can have a positive outcome with proper diagnosis and treatment. If you think you might have spinal stenosis, don’t hesitate to contact your doctor.
To summarize, Spinal stenosis is a condition in which nerves are compressed by an abnormal buildup of bone and tissue around the spine. While arthritis is the primary cause of spinal stenosis, you can also develop the condition due to long-term anti-inflammatory drugs, trauma, tumors, and infections. It causes symptoms such as pain in the lower back, legs, and feet. A specialist can diagnose the condition using CT scans, MRI’s and Myelography tests. Treatments include spinal fusion surgeries, pain medications, and epidural injections.