Spinal stenosis is a degenerative spine condition that refers to the gradual narrowing of the spinal canal in the spinal column. This condition is usually a result of the gradual deterioration of the spinal anatomy, although it may also be accelerated or worsened by a back or neck injury. The mere presence of spinal stenosis isn’t necessarily symptomatic – in fact, many people may have spinal stenosis without knowing it – but should the stenosis result in nerve compression a number of potential symptoms may present.
In a healthy spine, the spinal cord travels from the brain through the spinal canal with individual nerve roots branching off the cord and extending into the body through canals between the vertebrae. These canals act as sheaths and protect the delicate nerve infrastructure from damage. However, over time, the canals can become clogged or constricted in a number of ways:
- Intervertebral discs can herniate or bulge into the spinal canal
- Bone spurs (osteophytes) can form
- Inflamed soft tissue may encroach the nerves
- The ligaments of the spine can calcify
- Vertebrae can become misaligned (spondylolisthesis)
- Other problems may develop (infection, tumor, disease)
Regular wear and tear eventually takes its toll on the spinal anatomy and structures naturally begin to degrade. Chronic pain and other symptoms develop in the event that the canals constrict to the point that they actually irritate the nerves they are tasked to protect.
Treatment for spinal stenosis varies depending on the exact cause and severity of the spinal stenosis. In some cases, conservative, nonsurgical treatment may provide sufficient nerve decompression and pain relief, while surgery is occasionally required to provide the room necessary for the nerves to travel unencumbered.
If you are considering spine surgery to alleviate the effects of spinal stenosis, contact Laser Spine Institute to find out if one of our state-of-the-art, minimally invasive procedures might be able to provide you with the pain relief you require.