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Spinal Stenosis & the Role of Arthritis


Spinal Stenosis & Arthritis

Spinal stenosis can be triggered by many spinal problems, including arthritis anywhere in the spinal column. That’s because arthritis, by definition, means inflammation of joints, bones and soft tissue. Inflammation of these spinal components can cause the spinal canal to become narrower at any point along the spinal column. This narrowing is known as spinal stenosis.

It makes sense, therefore, that you may be at risk for developing spinal stenosis if you have arthritis of the spine. The most common (and often the most painful and debilitating) type of spinal arthritis is osteoarthritis. This type of arthritis can cause spinal stenosis in this way:

  • The cartilage covering the joints that connect the spinal vertebrae can wear out, and the connecting facet joints may start rubbing against each other.
  • The synovial fluid that lubricates these joints can thin out or dry up over time.
  • These conditions can encourage the growth of bone spurs in the spinal canal.
  • Bone spurs protrude into the spinal canal, causing the canal to narrow.
  • When the spinal canal narrows like this, nerve roots and the spinal cord can become pinched or squeezed.
  • Nerve roots emerging from the spinal canal are connected to peripheral nerves that coordinate motion and sensation in other parts of the body. When nerves are compressed, or pinched, in this way, they signal pain in the back and neck, as well as pain, numbness, and tingling in the extremities.
  • When these symptoms become severe, it may lead to trouble walking, standing, and even sitting.

If your symptoms of spinal stenosis are mild, you may be placed on over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medications by your physician to help reduce the inflammation of arthritis. Another method of relieving the inflammation of arthritis is the use of a corticosteroid injection. Corticosteroids are powerful anti-inflammatory drugs that can be injected into the spinal area to help reduce inflammation and provide enough immediate, short-term relief for a person to engage in a physical rehabilitation treatment program.

But, if your condition does not respond to these conservative therapies, your physician may recommend surgery to relieve the pressure on your nerve roots or spinal cord. Traditional open back surgery involves a lengthy recovery period for most individuals. Laser Spine Institute’s minimally invasive outpatient procedures are a more effective alternative to traditional open spine surgery and have quicker recuperation periods. For more information, contact Laser Spine Institute today. We will be happy to review your MRI or CT scan free of charge.

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