What is Spinal Stenosis?
Spinal stenosis refers to a narrowing of the spaces within your spine. Spinal stenosis can put pressure on the spinal canal and irritate nerves through the spine. Spinal stenosis occurs most frequently in the neck (cervical spine) and lower back (lumbar spine).
Unlike the pain caused by a Herniated Disc, often caused by a bulging disc compressing the spinal nerves, Stenosis is caused by the nerves being compressed by the bone itself, and usually requires diagnostics and surgery.
If left untreated, spinal stenosis can exacerbate, ultimately causing pressure on the spinal cord. This can lead to significant and permanent nerve damage including paralysis and death. Symptoms may affect your gait and balance, dexterity, grip strength and bowel or bladder function.
What are the most common causes of Spinal Stenosis?
Aging represents the most common cause of spinal stenosis. Spinal degeneration and bone density breakdown progresses throughout the body as it ages. As a result, tissues in the spine can thicken, and bones can increase in size, compressing the nerves. Common aging ailments such as osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis may also contribute to spinal stenosis.
- Maintain an active lifestyle including regular exercise. Exercise your core which strengthens the muscles that support your lower back and helps keep your spine stable.
- Maintain proper posture and lift heavy objects with a neutral spine, avoiding straining and rounding the back.
- Maintain a healthy weight. Consult your physician if you continually struggle with weight management.
What surgeries will a neurosurgeon perform to treat Spinal Stenosis?
If nonoperative solutions fail to mitigate the pain derived from spinal stenosis, a neurosurgeon may opt for a surgical approach. Typically a spinal physician will perform a Laminectomy to remove a portion of the vertebrae, thereby releasing the pressure on the spinal nerves and allowing the spine to move more freely within the canal.