Age and its role in the development of spinal stenosis
Spinal stenosis refers to the overall narrowing of the spinal canal. Some people are born with an abnormally narrow canal, though the majority of spinal stenosis cases affect individuals over the age of 50 and are due to degenerative changes in the spinal anatomy. A long and protective column of vertebrae and discs cover the spinal cord, so if any of these components shift, erode or become enlarged, the canal’s circumference would be reduced.
However, it is not the narrowing itself that makes spinal stenosis painful. Instead, it is only when the narrowed spinal canal compresses the spinal nerves that symptoms, such as pain in the spine, numbness, tingling and weakness, ensue. To learn about the degenerative conditions that lead to spinal stenosis as well as the treatments available for relief, read the following article.
Degenerative conditions that cause spinal stenosis
There are a variety of degenerative spine conditions that can contribute to spinal stenosis, including:
- Osteoarthritis — the gradual breakdown of facet joint cartilage, which can lead to the bones grinding against one another and the growth of bone spurs
- Osteoporosis — the gradual loss of vertebral bone density can make bones brittle and commonly leads to spondylolisthesis (when one vertebra slips over the vertebra beneath it)
- Degenerative disc disease — the tough outer wall of a disc loses water content and elasticity, and the discs lose their height, thereby narrowing, shrinking or becoming arthritic
- Osteopetrosis — a very rare disease that makes bones dense due to a genetic defect in the body, often resulting in fracture
Conservative treatments for spinal stenosis
Many people who have spinal stenosis can manage their symptoms with conservative treatments. Work with your doctor to design a plan which may consist of treatments like stretching, hot and cold therapy, low-impact exercises, physical therapy, epidural steroid injections and pain medication. For a small percentage of patients, surgical intervention may be required. If this is the case for you, contact Laser Spine Institute to learn about the advantages of our minimally invasive spinal stenosis procedures.
At Laser Spine Institute, we offer a minimally invasive decompression surgery to relieve the pressure on the spinal cord from the narrowing of the spinal canal. If your spinal stenosis is more severe, a minimally invasive stabilization surgery may also be required to ease your symptoms. If you are interested in finding out if you are a candidate for our outpatient procedures, reach out to our team today and ask for a free MRI review.*