Spinal narrowing and the aging process

Spinal narrowing and the aging process go hand in hand. As we get older, the components that make up our spine begin to wear down. Through structural changes or inflammation, the canal begins to narrow and significant pressure begins to build up. If your spinal nerves become compressed as a result of this condition, you may experience a number of symptoms, including pain, tingling, numbness and weakness throughout the neck, back and extremities. In more severe cases of spinal narrowing, also known as spinal stenosis, some people may have a loss of coordination, lack of dexterity and spasticity. If you are experiencing these symptoms, the following article can guide you toward a treatment plan that will help you find relief.

How aging affects the spine

To understand how spinal narrowing occurs as we age, it is helpful to understand how the different parts of the spine work.

The components of the spine include:

  • Spinal discs. Over time, these spongy, cartilaginous shock absorbers lose water content, elasticity and height. This may result in a herniated disc or bulging disc.
  • Vertebrae. The discs between the vertebrae can decrease in density and become brittle. It is also possible for degenerated discs to cause a vertebra to slip forward and over the vertebra beneath it, a condition referred to as spondylolisthesis.
  • Facet joints. The cartilage between each vertebral joint can deteriorate and cause bone spurs, also called osteophytes. This degenerative condition is referred to as facet disease, which is a type of arthritis of the spine.
  • Ligaments. Over time, unabsorbed calcium deposits can cause ligaments to become larger and harden into bone; this process is referred to as ossification.

Conservative treatment options for spinal narrowing

There are a variety of nonsurgical methods to managing pain and discomfort. Talk to your physician about conservative treatment options that may offer pain relief, including:

  • Pain medications
  • Hot and cold therapy
  • Physical therapy
  • Low-impact exercise
  • Steroid injections

If you have tried the therapies above for several months and have not found lasting pain relief, your physician may recommend surgery as an option.

Minimally invasive surgery for spinal narrowing

At Laser Spine Institute, our surgeons specialize in a variety of outpatient procedures to assist with conditions relating to spinal narrowing and the aging process. These procedures are safer and effective alternatives to open neck and back surgery^ and have helped more than 75,000 people find relief from their chronic pain.

Our minimally invasive decompression procedures include:

  • Laminotomy — relieves pressure on the compressed spinal cord
  • Decompression with an Interlaminar Stabilization™ device — relieves pain associated with spinal narrowing and the aging process

If you are a candidate for minimally invasive spine surgery, our procedures will remove the structure causing pressure through a muscle-sparing procedure that uses less than a 1-inch incision.

At Laser Spine Institute, our goal is to provide you with the highest quality of comfort and care so that you can return to your daily activities. For more information, contact our dedicated team today and ask for your no-cost MRI review.*