Spinal narrowing — an overview

Spinal narrowing — or spinal stenosis — is a common source of chronic neck or back pain. This condition is typically the result of age-related changes to the spine that happen to everyone. Narrowing can affect the already tight nerve pathways in the spine, putting pressure on the spinal cord or nerve roots as they travel out to the body. The resulting symptoms can be debilitating and disruptive to every part of your life, from spending time with family to working in the yard.

In order to successfully manage pain stemming from spinal narrowing, a physician will need to make an accurate diagnosis and determine the best approach for you depending on factors like age, health and lifestyle.

What causes spinal narrowing?

The spine is an intricate construction of bones, joints, discs and other elements that work together to support the head and torso and protect the central nervous system as it travels from the brain out to the body. It also must be flexible enough for basic movement, which puts stress on the moving parts, like the joints and discs. Over time these parts wear out and can become swollen or displaced, taking up room in the already tight spinal column. Here are a few examples of the conditions that can contribute to spinal narrowing:

  • Herniated discs
  • Bulging discs
  • Facet disease
  • Bone spurs
  • Spondylolisthesis

Symptoms of spinal narrowing are the result of nerve compression that occurs from one of the above conditions putting pressure on a spinal nerve. This can lead to localized pain as well as shooting pain, numbness and tingling that travel to the upper or lower extremities.

Treatment

For many patients diagnosed with spinal narrowing, a combination of methods including medication, rest, low-impact exercises and hot/cold therapy can improve symptoms and range of motion enough to engage in regular activity again. You may be referred to a specialist for a surgical consultation if a full course of conservative treatment does not bring the results you and your doctor were hoping for.

If you are in this situation, reach out to Laser Spine Institute before consenting to a highly invasive traditional open neck or back procedure. Our minimally invasive spine surgery is performed on an outpatient basis and has helped more than 75,000 patients find relief from pain since 2005.

Contact us today for your no-cost MRI review* to determine if you are a potential candidate for one of our procedures.