Spinal stenosis, also known as pseudo-claudication, refers to the narrowing of open spaces in the spine, imposing pressure on the spinal cord and the nerves. Although about 75 percent instances of spinal stenosis affect the lower back or lumbar spine, in some cases, the disorder may also cause neck pain. Spinal Stenosis causes a debilitating pain in the lower back and neck, and in some cases, the issue may not exhibit any distinct symptoms. As a result, understanding the disorder becomes essential to ensure there is no delay in diagnosis and treatment, as if ignored for long, it may cripple the patient’s mobility. Shedding more light on the subject, the blog post discusses the causes, symptoms, diagnosis and treatment of Spinal Stenosis.
Ageing is among one of the most common causes of spinal stenosis, as the body goes through a number of degenerative changes that may impose pressure on the spinal cord and nerves. A narrow spinal canal from the time of the birth may also cause spinal stenosis. In addition, some of the other symptoms are:
Osteoarthritis may trigger the formation of bone spurs, which may grow into the spinal canal. Apart from Osteoarthritis, Paget’s disease, a bone disorder that affects the adults, may also cause an abnormal bone overgrowth in the spine.
A major trauma or car accidents may dislocate or fracture one or more vertebrae. A displaced bone as a result of spinal fracture may damage the spinal canal. Additionally, a back surgery may also put excessive pressure on the spinal nerves.
Ligaments perform the function of holding the bones in the spine together, and may thicken over time, leading to stiffness, which can cause a bulge in the spinal canal.
This is a condition in which a vertebral bone slides forward over the bone below it, thereby narrowing the space in the spinal canal.
Abnormal growth of soft tissues in the spine may also lead to narrowing of the spinal canal or cause bone resorption.
The symptoms of spinal stenosis get more evident with time, as the nerve compression increases. The common symptoms include a debilitating pain the lower back and the legs, along with a few additional conditions such as:
- Pain and cramping in legs while walking or standing for a long period
- Numbness in legs and buttocks
- Weakness in legs and arms
- A tingling, hot and cold sensation in the legs
Although sitting upright may provide a temporary relief, the pain may recur if the person stands or walks for a long time.
Diagnosing spinal stenosis is usually difficult as the disorder either exhibits no symptoms, or results in symptoms that are similar to age-related degenerative changes in the bone. A spine doctor starts the diagnosis by tracing the medical history of the patient and observing the spinal movements. Some of the tests that may help in diagnosing spinal stenosis include:
X-rays can highlight changes in the bone and also help in detecting the presence of bone spurs that may narrow the spinal canal.
Magnetic Resonance Imaging
MRI remains the cornerstone for diagnosing spinal stenosis as it produces cross-sectional images of the spine to detect a disc or ligament damage along with tumors. Additionally, MRI can also show the pressure on the spinal cord and adjacent nerves.
CT Myelogram is another method used to diagnose spinal stenosis. It assists a spine doctor to check for bone spurs, tumors, and herniated discs.
Medication is the first line of treatment for spinal stenosis, depending on the location and severity of the disorder. Apart from painkillers, the treatment may include:
Leaning forward and flexing the spine when walking, or drawing the knees up to the chest when lying down, may provide relief, as these positions increase the space available to spinal nerves. Back pain belts can also help in maintaining the posture and reduce the pain.
Muscle Relaxants and Antihistamines
Muscle relaxants are helpful in relieving the muscle spasms associated with spinal stenosis. Antihistamines can also help in alleviating the inflammation in the spinal nerves.
Surgery is usually the last option if all other treatments fail to provide relief, with the options being Laminectomy and Laminoplasty. These surgical procedures release the excessive pressure off the spinal cord and the adjacent nerves by broadening the space within the spinal canal. In Laminectomy, the surgeon removes the back of one or more vertebrae, giving more space to the nerves. Laminoplasty on the other hand involves cutting the lamina on both the sides of the affected vertebrae, and swinging the freed flap of the bone to reduce the pressure on nerves.
The Way Forward
Based on the patient’s medical history, health condition, the spine doctor can judge whether oral medications, steroid injections, or a surgery is best way forward. Wearing a back pain belt is also beneficial for patients suffering from spinal stenosis, as it helps in maintaining the right posture. As far as buying a high quality back pain belt is challenging, Vissco has got you covered We are one of the leading back pain belt suppliers in the country, and also offer a wide range of other pain relief products. For more information about our back pain belts or any other product, call us at 022-4333-0300/4333-0333 or fill out our contact form and we’ll take it from there.