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In-depth Insights Into Spinal Stenosis Management

A doctor touches a virtual Spine in hand describes the spinal stenosis treatment.
Published by Dr. Umesh Srikantha on June 19, 2024

Have you or your loved ones been diagnosed with Spinal Stenosis? This spinal condition occurs when the space around your spinal cord narrows and applies pressure on the spinal cord and nerves.
Our article aims to inform you of spinal stenosis, the causative factors, symptoms, and lumbar canal stenosis treatment options to manage this condition.

Spinal Stenosis: How & Where & Why Does it Occur?

Spinal stenosis is more prevalent in individuals over the age of fifty, although it can affect anyone. The condition is attributed to the changes in the bones as the body ages. Apart from age, stenosis can also occur due to conditions such as:

  • Osteoarthritis
  • Achondroplasia
  • Ankylosing Spondylosis
  • Congenital spinal stenosis
  • OPLL or Ossification of Posterior Longitudinal Ligament

Although your spinal canal runs throughout your entire back, spinal stenosis occurs mostly in these regions:

  • Lower back

Spinal stenosis of the lower back is termed lumbar spinal stenosis. This condition occurs in the lumbar vertebrae or L1 to L5, which are the largest vertebrae in your entire spine.

  • Neck

Spinal stenosis of the neck, otherwise known as cervical spinal stenosis, affects the seven vertebrae in the neck, namely C1 to C7.

The narrowing of the spinal canal pressurises the spinal cord and the nerves branching off it, causing numbness, pain, tingling, and muscle weakness. Over time, the symptoms may worsen, leading to severe back pain and nagging nerve issues like Sciatica.

Regardless of where and why spinal stenosis occurs, it is important to track the indicative signs because, in its early stages, spinal stenosis may not cause any symptoms at all.

Spinal Stenosis: Signs & Symptoms

Spinal Stenosis manifests as the following symptoms much later after the condition sets in:

  • Loss of sensation in the feet
  • Back pain radiating to the buttocks and legs (Sciatica)
  • Tingling or numbness in the legs
  • Muscle weakness and cramps in the legs
  • “Foot drop” or a weakness that makes the foot slap on the floor while walking.
  • Loss of libido

Diagnosing Spinal Stenosis: What to Expect

Spinal Stenosis diagnosis commences with a complete assessment of your:

  • Medical history
  • Physical health condition
  • Range of motion

The doctor may recommend further tests for a more thorough diagnosis. You may require:

  • MRI and CT scans, and x-rays for a closer view of your spine.
  • Bone scan to identify growths and damages in your spine.
  • Electromyogram to evaluate your spinal nerve health.

An extensive diagnosis sheds more light on your condition, its severity, and the causative factors, allowing your doctor to create a personalised treatment plan to get you on the road to recovery.

Treatment For Spinal Stenosis: Home & Medical Options

Although there are multiple spinal stenosis treatment options, your doctor for spinal stenosis will personalise your treatment based on the following:

  • The causative factors
  • The spinal stenosis location
  • Symptom severity

Your doctor may recommend home care remedies for mild symptoms. Conversely, if your symptoms are bad, you may require medical interventions to alleviate your spinal condition.

To find relief from mild pain and discomfort caused by spinal stenosis, you may try the following home remedies:

  • Apply hot compresses to facilitate better blood circulation, relax the muscles and minimise pain.
  • Apply cold compresses if hot compresses don't work. Ice compresses are excellent in minimising tenders, inflammation, and swelling in the affected site. Apply the ice on and off for twenty minutes.
  • Physical exercises to relieve pain but only under the guidance of your healthcare provider.

When home remedies fail to deliver the desired outcomes, the next best option is non-surgical medical treatments. Your doctor may prescribe the following treatments for your spinal stenosis condition:

    • Medications

Your doctor may recommend the following medicines, each with its own purpose:

    • NSAIDs to help reduce inflammatory pain
    • Gabapentin or antiseizure medication
    • Amitriptyline or tricyclic antidepressants
    • Muscle relaxants to relieve cramps and spasms
  • Physiotherapy

Certified physiotherapists will train you with a personalised exercise program to help you regain strength, flexibility, balance, and spinal stability. The exercises will also boost your core strength and spinal resilience.

  • Steroid injections

If your pain and inflammation are severe, your doctor will recommend corticosteroid injections. The drug is administered into the space around the pinched spinal nerve to alleviate the symptoms.

Also Read: Understanding Your Surgical Options for Spinal Stenosis

Surgical Options to Treat Spinal Stenosis

Not all spinal stenosis conditions require surgery. However, it is the best option if your spinal stenosis and its symptoms are severe. Your doctor may recommend a minimally invasive or open surgery when all other treatments fail to deliver results. Besides, surgery could be the best bet, considering the complexity of the condition and the intricacy of the spinal region.

Depending on the severity of the problem and the location of the stenosis, your doctor may recommend the following surgical options:

  • Decompression, including laminectomy and foraminotomy, involves removing part of the bone, soft tissue, and ligaments. This procedure is intended for patients who experience predominant leg pain without instability. It can be performed in a minimally invasive manner, using either a tube or an endoscope.
  • Laminotomy or partial laminectomy is where the part of the lamina causing nerve compression is removed.
  • Foraminotomy involves the foramen, which is the space where the nerve roots exit. During the procedure, the tissues or bones in the foramen are removed to create extra space for the nerve roots and prevent nerve compression.
  • Laminoplasty is recommended explicitly for cervical spinal stenosis, which occurs in the neck. In this surgery, the lamina is removed to expand the spinal canal space.
  • Spinal fusion could be the final option to counteract radiating nerve pain and spinal instability, significantly when other treatment options haven’t helped. This procedure permanently fuses two vertebrae together to improve spinal stability and minimise pain.
  • Interspinous process spacers help rectify lumbar spinal stenosis with spacers inserted between the bones extending from the back of each spinous process. By keeping the vertebrae apart, the spacers create more room for the nerve, thereby relieving pain.
  • Minimally Invasive Spine Surgery (MISS) differs significantly from conventional (open) spine surgery, which requires dissecting the spinal muscles from their attachments and retracting them to access the spine. This traditional approach can cause muscle injury, including denervation and ischemia, and can negatively impact post-operative muscle function. In contrast, Minimally Invasive Spine Surgery is performed through small tubular retractors, allowing the entire procedure to be completed without disrupting the muscular attachments of the spine. Beyond the smaller, more cosmetic incisions, MISS offers several additional benefits.

Say Goodbye to Spinal Stenosis With Spine 360

Dealing with spinal stenosis requires a deep understanding of the condition and finding the most suitable treatment options based on your individual requirements.

Whether it involves physical therapy, medication, or even surgery, the ultimate objective is to enhance your quality of life by alleviating symptoms and regaining normal function.

Spine360 specialises in comprehensive, personalised care for complex spinal issues like stenosis. We are the top spine specialist hospital in Bangalore providing the latest medical treatments for spinal health.

Book an appointment with our specialists to experience the finest spine care.

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