Stenosis is a condition of the spine where the spinal canal narrows gradually, reducing the available space around the spinal cord and spinal nerves. This can lead to chronic pain if the spinal cord is under pressure from the canal.
One or more spinal nerves may also be compressed by this narrowing, leading to pain in the arms or legs and possibly a feeling of numbness or weakness in these. The amount of narrowing in the canal will vary from patient to patient, and it is possible for this condition to be present yet there be no negative effects,
What causes Spinal Stenosis?
There are two varieties of stenosis: “congenital” and “acquired.” Congenital stenosis occurs at birth, hence the name, and despite being present throughout the entirety of the patient’s life often does not show symptoms until adulthood. Stenosis normally begins to affect a patient as they near the age of 50, and is very rare to find symptoms of in someone under the age of 30.
Acquired stenosis is typically caused by either arthritic damage or direct injury. Arthritis of the spine may result in spinal ligament thickening, bone spurs, or thickening of the joint tissue surrounding the vertebrae. Acquired stenosis may also result from degenerative disc disease, in which a bulging disc can put pressure on the spinal nerves.
Symptoms of Stenosis
The symptoms are the same for both acquired and congenital stenosis. The most prevalent symptom is pain radiating from the spine out into the torso and limbs. There may be a feeling of direct pain in the location where the spinal canal has narrowed enough to touch the spinal cord.
Symptoms will vary slightly depending on the location of the stenosis. Cervical (neck) stenosis may have a feeling of numbness in the arms and shoulders, whereas lumbar (lower back) stenosis may have the same feeling in the legs.
Treatment for Spinal Stenosis
The first step in the treatment for many patients is to establish an exercise regimen. Exercise, coupled with monitoring through physical therapy sessions, can help to strength the muscles of the spine.
Stronger muscles of the back can lower the amount of support required of the spine, which may lead to a reduction of inflammation. Exercise will also increase blood-flow to this area, which will improve the amount of nutrients being carried to the spine to accelerate the healing process.
Medication in the form of pain relievers and anti-inflammatory drugs is also viable. For those patients with moderate to severe symptoms, prescription strength medication may be given by a Pain Management Doctor in Orange County.
An epidural steroid injection with a Los Angeles Pain Clinic is an available option to patients who are not responding well to oral-medications. Spinal surgery is a final consideration if conservative treatments are not beneficial, which may be performed as a removal of the portion of bone that is compressing the spine. This is called a laminectomy.
The CA Pain Network connects those in pain with pain management Los Angeles trusts, including pain clinics in Orange County, Long Beach, Santa Monica, Inland Empire and more. If you need an OC pain clinic or one in LA or even Pasadena, call (310) 626-1526 for more information and scheduling today!