May 9, 2022

What is Spinal Stenosis? An Overview from a Spine Doctor

Dr. Venu Vemuri

Estimates suggest that between 250,000 and 500,000 people in the U.S. experience symptoms associated with spinal stenosis. Spinal stenosis is a term used to describe a narrowing of a person's spinal canal. This narrowing causes added pressure on the spinal cord and the spinal nerve roots. While spinal stenosis can happen anywhere along the spinal canal, it most typically affects the neck (cervical spine) and the lower part of the back (lumbar spine).

Sometimes people are born with smaller spinal canals and suffer from spinal stenosis at a very early age. Congenital spinal stenosis is more common among men. Spinal stenosis can also happen after trauma from some type of accident like a sports injury or vehicle collision.

Spinal stenosis is most common when middle aged and older adults. After decades of use, a variety of conditions may narrow the open space in the spine including osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis (RA), spondylolisthesis, herniated disks, tumors, and changes to the ligaments in the spine.

While most people do experience some amount of spinal osteoarthritis starting in middle age, there are some things you can do to lower your chances of spinal stenosis. Maintaining a healthy weight is beneficial since it reduces the amount of stress on your back. Additionally, practicing safe lifting protocol when you are carrying heavy items is advisable along with keeping good posture. Regular exercise that helps to build and support your back muscles and your flexibility is advisable including swimming, yoga, walking and weight training.

Some people with spinal stenosis do not even realize they have the condition. Other people with spinal stenosis experience a considerable amount of discomfort and pain. Oftentimes the pain associated with spinal stenosis begins slowly and becomes increasingly uncomfortable over time. Follow along to better understand some of the common symptoms of spinal stenosis.

Common Symptoms of Cervical and/or Spinal Stenosis

1. Tingling sensations and/or numbness in the legs, arms, feet, neck or hands

2. Muscle weakness in the feet, legs, arms and hands which can sometimes lead to foot drop where leg weakness causes a person to slap their foot on the ground

3. Muscle cramping in the legs, often after standing or walking for extended amounts of time

4. A burning type of pain in the back and/or neck that tends to radiate

5. Headaches, specifically for those with cervical stenosis

6. Difficulty balancing and walking without assistance

7. Greater relief from symptoms when sitting

With very severe cases of spinal stenosis, some people experience problems with their sexual functioning along with incontinence of the bladder and/or bowel.

When to Seek Medical Treatment for Cervical or Spinal Stenosis

If you or someone you love is experiencing symptoms associated with spinal stenosis, it is a good idea to seek out qualified medical attention. While there is not a cure for spinal stenosis, experienced physicians like Dr. Venu Vemuri at miiSpine diagnose and treat spinal stenosis, using a variety of approaches.

Many people with spinal stenosis do not require surgical intervention but can benefit from a range of non-surgical treatment options including physical therapy and certain exercise and dietary regimens along with massage, acupuncture, heat and cold therapy, and certain medications including anti-inflammatory medicine and epidural steroid injections. Sometimes a brace can help provide relief and added support.

Depending on the root cause of the spinal stenosis, sometimes some type of surgical intervention is advisable and may include microlaminectomy, micro endoscopic discectomy, laminectomy/foramintomy, laminectomy with fusion, and posterior or lumbar microdecompression.

If you are seeking treatment for cervical or spinal stenosis in the Louisville, Kentucky-region contact Dr. Venu Vemuri and the experienced team at miiSpine. Using a minimally invasive surgical approach to treat cervical and spinal stenosis, Dr. Vemuri can help relieve your pain more quickly while also significantly increasing the rate of recovery. For additional information about miiSpine or to schedule an appointment with Dr. Vemuri, call (502) 242-6370 or contact miiSpine online.

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