The spinal cord is a bundle of nerves that extends from the brain to the waist area. The spinal cord and the brain work together as the body’s central nervous system. Often referred to as a highway for the brain, the spinal cord carries electrical impulses to and from the brain, and transmits those impulses to the rest of the body. The cord also acts as a coordinating center and is responsible for simple reflexes.
A thin cable of nerve fibers, the spinal cord is protected by the vertebral column and a clear fluid called the cerebral spinal fluid. The column is narrow in space, and consists of individual vertebra and protective discs in between each vertebra. These discs act as shock absorbers for the various pressures we put on our back and neck each day. Over time, the discs and other parts of the spinal column deteriorate, mainly due to the normal aging process. This causes a narrowing of the spinal column, a condition known as spinal stenosis.
One situation that can contribute to this narrowing is the damage or degeneration of one or more intervertebral discs. In the case of a herniated disc, the outer layer of the disc, known as the annulus fibrosus, can break open and push out a spongy, jellylike material contained inside. If this occurs, the spinal cord can become impinged by the disc, which puts pressure on sensitive nerve tissue. Depending on the severity of the pressure, the pain can be gradual or sudden. Tingling, weakness, and numbness also can manifest in the limbs and other parts of the body.
If you feel you’re experiencing symptoms of spinal stenosis, contact your healthcare provider. He or she will be able to properly diagnose your pain, and recommend a course of conservative treatment.
On occasion, some patients may need more than conservative treatment to address the crippling pain of spinal stenosis and other back and neck conditions. Thankfully, there’s another option for pain relief—minimally invasive, outpatient procedures performed at Laser Spine Institute (LSI). With a much faster recuperation period than other treatments like open-back surgery, LSI’s pioneering procedures can put you back in the driver’s seat to a functioning lifestyle once again. Contact us today for a free MRI or CT scan review, and to receive more information about our institute.