What should I do if I think I have spinal narrowing?
If you think your neck or back pain and other symptoms may be the result of spinal narrowing, your first step should be to visit your doctor for an exact diagnosis and to discuss a treatment plan. As you prepare for your appointment, learning about this condition and the specific steps that go into the diagnostic process can help relieve anxiety and improve communication with your doctor.
Spinal narrowing is generally an age-related condition, but factors like injury, weight and posture can also contribute. Over the years, the anatomy of your spine gradually deteriorates as a result of everyday activity and the effects of aging. A bulging or herniated disc, bone spur or other degenerative condition can result in spinal narrowing when it protrudes into the nerve pathways of the spine. When this space is reduced to the point that the nerve becomes compressed, or pinched, symptoms like pain, tingling and numbness in the neck, back or extremities can develop.
How physicians diagnose spinal narrowing
The symptoms of spinal narrowing can vary based on the location of the pinched nerve, which is why it is so important to see a doctor for a correct diagnosis. For example, narrowing in the lumbar (lower) spine can cause symptoms in the hips, buttocks, legs and feet that could potentially be caused by another condition.
To confirm diagnosis of the correct condition, your doctor should perform the following steps:
• Discussion of your symptoms
• Review of your medical history
• Physical examination
• Movement tests for range of motion issues
• Diagnostic imagery like X-rays, MRI or CT scan
Upon diagnosis of spinal narrowing as the cause of your symptoms, the first step in treatment is usually a course of conservative methods to relieve pain and improve mobility. This can include pain medication, heating pads, cold compresses, massage, physical therapy and epidural steroid injections. Surgery is usually seen as a last-resort treatment to be explored after conservative treatments have been exhausted.
If you are ever recommended for surgery to treat spinal narrowing, contact Laser Spine Institute before you consent to a highly invasive traditional open spine surgery. Our minimally invasive spine surgery is a safer and effective alternative^ and is performed as an outpatient procedure through the use of muscle-sparing techniques.
To learn more and receive a no-cost MRI review* to determine if you are a potential candidate for one of our procedures, reach out to our dedicated team today.