Spinal stenosis can be related to any number of degenerative conditions affecting the spinal column. Degenerative spinal conditions can be caused by aging, trauma, heredity, tumors and other health problems.
Spinal stenosis is essentially a narrowing of the spinal canal. It typically occurs when spinal materials, including discs, vertebrae, ligaments, facet joints and other tissues deteriorate or degenerate and encroach on any space in the spinal column.
- Degenerative disc disease is the gradual deterioration of an intervertebral disc or discs due to the wear and tear of aging, or due to injury. When an intervertebral disc wears out, disc material can enter the small spaces in the spinal canal where nerve roots are located. When nerve roots are squeezed by the disc material, symptoms such as pain may result.
- Bulging discs are intervertebral discs that have become misshapen. These discs can protrude into the spinal canal, causing it to narrow. Again, nerve roots become compressed and pain occurs.
- Bone spurs, often the result of osteoarthritis in the spinal canal, may develop as joints in the spinal column deteriorate. Bone spurs can grow into the spinal canal and press on nerve roots, resulting in pain, tingling or numbness.
- Herniated discs are intervertebral discs that have broken open or ruptured due to wear and tear caused by aging, or due to injury. Disc material and fluid from herniated discs can cause the spinal canal to narrow, and, again, nerve roots are affected.
Any of these conditions can occur in the cervical region (or neck area) of the spinal canal, or in the thoracic region (or the middle back area). However, as most people are already aware, the most common place for back problems to occur is in the lower back area, or the lumbar region.
Spinal stenosis, regardless of the cause or the location along the spinal column, can result in painful or irritating symptoms, such as a dull, aching, localized pain; stabbing pain; and tingling or numbness that radiates to the hips, legs, arms, buttocks and shoulders. Other spinal stenosis symptoms may include headaches or muscle aches. Eventually, spinal stenosis may make it difficult for a person to perform everyday motions, such as walking, standing, sitting, bending over or getting out of bed.
If you suspect you have a degenerative spinal condition that is putting pressure on the nerve roots in your spinal canal, we may be able to help you at Laser Spine Institute. We offer minimally invasive outpatient procedures as an alternative to traditional open back surgery. To find out if you are a candidate for our procedures, contact us today for a MRI or CT scan review.