Periodic aches and pains are normal, but ongoing pain that affects your mobility and quality of life should be a cause for concern. While surprising to learn, spinal stenosis affects an estimated 8 to 11 percent of the population according to the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons. Even though it is a common condition, most people are not truly familiar with this degenerative disorder of the spine. With this guide, you will learn a few key facts regarding spinal stenosis.
Aging Is a Common Cause
First and foremost, you should know that aging is a common factor in the development of spinal stenosis.
As your body ages, the spaces within your spine will begin to narrow. This narrowing places pressure on the nerves, causing pain and discomfort in the spine.
Osteoarthritis is another cause of spinal stenosis. This inflammation of the joints and surrounding tissue and ligaments can occur at any age. However, the wear and tear of the spine through the natural aging process will most likely lead to osteoarthritis.
If you have been diagnosed with spinal stenosis, you may experience different symptoms from another person with the condition. While symptoms do vary from person to person, back pain is the most common sign of the disorder.
Here are a few other signs that you may have spinal stenosis:
- Neck pain
- Numbness in the back/neck
- Stiffness of the spine/neck
- Sciatica, or pain that starts in the spine and moves down through the legs
- Numbness/weakness in the foot
- Difficulty standing/walking
In severe cases, spinal stenosis places an excessive amount of pressure on the nerves that control the bladder and bowels. This can lead to the loss of bladder and bowel control.
Treatment Is Possible
Many doctors will first recommend medication to reduce the inflammation, stiffness, and pain associated with spinal stenosis. Acetaminophen or ibuprofen are both effective options to consider. If your stenosis is causing muscle spasms, anti-seizure medication may be prescribed.
In addition, exercise can be beneficial to ease your pain, but make sure to talk to your doctor before starting any new workout program.
Patients who have chronic pain, loss of mobility, and a decreased quality of life may require surgery. A laminectomy procedure is an effective option for many patients.
During a laminectomy, your surgeon will remove a portion of a bone in the spine. This creates extra space in between the spinal cord, reducing pressure on the nerves and easing your overall pain.
Spinal stenosis may be a common condition, but most people do not understand the causes, symptoms, and treatment options. This guide and your doctor's help will ensure your disorder is not only understood but also diagnosed and treated. For more information on back pain relief, contact your local medical office.