Spinal stenosis is caused by the narrowing of the spaces within the spinal column. In most cases, the condition occurs when the spinal cord in the neck (cervical spine) or the spinal nerve roots in the lower back (lumbar spine) get compressed causing a number of pain symptoms. This spinal disorder is most common in men and women over 50 years of age. It can also occur in younger people who are born with a narrowing of the spinal canal or who suffer an injury to the spine. Multispecialty pain management centers in Brooklyn, NYC offer effective treatment for this condition using noninvasive modalities.
Causes and Symptoms
Spinal stenosis is most commonly caused by wear-and-tear changes in the spine related to osteoarthritis. Other causes of this spinal disorder include herniated disks, thickened ligaments, overgrowth of bone, tumors and spinal injuries.
While spinal stenosis can potentially develop at any place within the spinal column, it most often occurs in the lower spine and to a lesser extent, in the region of the neck. The location and severity of the condition determine the type of symptoms a person experiences. Common symptoms include –
- Neck pain or low back pain
- Pain, numbness, tingling, or cramping in the arms, foot or leg
- Weakness in a hand, arm, foot or leg
- Problems with walking and balance
- Tingling, numbness, or pain that radiates from the low back into the buttocks and legs
- Bowel or bladder dysfunction (urinary urgency and incontinence, in severe cases)
- Hot or cold feelings in the legs
Diagnosis and Treatment
Medical diagnosis is based on the signs and symptoms associated with the condition, previous medical history, and detailed physical examination. As the symptoms may be similar to those of other conditions, pain management doctors may recommend imaging tests such as X-rays, MRI scans, CT myelograms, bone scans and CT scans to identify problems with the spine. In multispecialty healthcare centers, healthcare professionals from various disciplines will work as a team to develop a customized treatment plan to address the symptoms, which in most cases, can be managed with nonsurgical modalities such as physical therapy, TENS (Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation), epidural steroid injections, NSAIDs (Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs), and back exercises.
- Physical therapy(PT) – Physical therapy focus on improving strength and mobility and enhancing joint functioning and range of motion. Passive therapy includes massage, ultrasound, electrical simulation and heat or ice packs. These help tighten the muscles and reduce pain and discomfort. Therapeutic exercises include strengthening, stretching and range-of-motion exercises.
- TENS (Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation) – TENS involves application of low voltage electrical simulation to the skin at different frequencies and pulse durations to manage chronic pain.
- Epidural Steroid Injections – Injections of steroid medication into the space that surrounds the nerve roots (epidural space) help lower inflammation and acute pain that radiates into the arms and the legs.
- Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) – First-line pharmacotherapy for spinal stenosis includes NSAIDs. Medications such as aspirin, ibuprofen, naproxen and acetaminophen are used to treat mild to moderate pain, reduce inflammation, and prevent further damage.
- Back exercises – These include stretching the muscles of the back, forward bending, back flexion and strengthening exercises which focus on strengthening the lower back.
Natural Remedies to Prevent Spinal Stenosis
Simple lifestyle changes can help prevent this painful spinal disorder:
- Maintain a healthy weight. The spine gets stressed and deteriorates when it cannot support the weight of the body.
- Regular exercise – Flexing, stretching and strengthening exercises can help strengthen the muscles around the spine and help it support the weight of the body.
- Maintain good body posture and practice proper body mechanics. Avoid activities that can strain the spine.