There are a number of potential causes of spinal narrowing, also known as spinal stenosis, that can lead to back or neck pain in an otherwise healthy patient. An unfortunate side effect of growing older is that our spinal anatomy naturally begins to gradually deteriorate. While this deterioration is not necessarily symptomatic on its own, when the spinal column or one of the foraminal canals becomes constricted to the point that it compresses the nerves that they are supposed to protect, a number of painful symptoms may be experienced.
Some of the most common causes of spinal narrowing include:
- Traumatic or sports-related injury – scar tissue or damaged soft tissue or bone can have long-term ramifications on the patient’s overall spine health.
- Degenerative disc disease – a herniated, bulged, or otherwise deteriorated intervertebral disc commonly causes spinal stenosis.
- Osteoarthritis – inflamed tissue and facet disease may impact the vertebral canals.
- Spondylolisthesis – vertebral misalignment that occurs when one vertebra slips down onto another resulting in constriction.
- Bone spurs – osteophytes are common causes of nerve compression.
- Other – the presence of infection, tumor, or disease can all cause nerve compression.
Treatment for spinal narrowing first requires the cause of the stenosis to be uncovered. Once the doctor has identified the exact location of the spinal stenosis and the underlying cause(s) at fault, he or she will work with the patient to develop a carefully tailored treatment plan. In most cases, a series of conservative, nonsurgical treatments will be sufficient to alleviate the patient’s back or neck pain, although in some cases surgical intervention is warranted.
If you are considering undergoing an invasive open spine procedure to alleviate the causes of spinal narrowing in your back or neck, contact Laser Spine Institute to learn about the benefits of our outpatient endoscopic procedures.