A look at what causes stenosis of the spine

Spinal stenosis is the narrowing of the spinal canal.

This is one of the most common spine conditions, and often goes unnoticed in patients until a nerve becomes pinched in the narrowing canal. When this happens, symptoms of severe pain and discomfort appear and alert the patient that a spine condition has developed. If these symptoms are present in your neck or back and last for longer than a few days or a week, you should contact your doctor to determine the cause of your pain.

Your doctor can perform the following tests to determine if you have spinal stenosis and what is causing your spine to narrow:

  • Physical examination
  • Series of questions about your symptoms
  • Medical imaging, such as MRI or CT scan

The information from these tests will be used to diagnose the cause of your spinal stenosis and the best treatment options for your condition.

Degenerative spine conditions and spinal stenosis

The most common cause of spinal stenosis is a degenerative spine condition. In fact, spinal stenosis often develops as a result of most spine conditions, such as:

  • Bone spurs (osteophytes)
  • Bulging disc
  • Herniated disc
  • Ligament hardening
  • Spondylolisthesis (vertebral slippage)
  • Degenerative scoliosis

These conditions can cause the discs or vertebrae of the spine to move out of alignment and into the spinal canal, narrowing the space in the spinal canal for the nerve roots to travel. This is why nerves often become pinched when spinal stenosis occurs.

Treatments for spinal stenosis

Typically, spinal stenosis can be treated through conservative methods of treatment, such as stretching, physical therapy and pain medication. These treatments help to block the pain of the pinched nerve while the damaged parts of the spine are moved back into place.

If this is not effective, minimally invasive spine surgery may be your best option for pain relief. At Laser Spine Institute, we offer minimally invasive spine surgery to help treat spinal stenosis. Many cases of moderate stenosis can be treated with a decompression surgery, though some more severe cases may require a stabilization procedure. Both types of procedures treat spinal stenosis by removing the portion of the spine that is causing the spinal canal to narrow and pinching a nerve. Our minimally invasive decompression surgery removes a small portion of the damaged disc or vertebra, while our minimally invasive stabilization surgery removes the entire piece and replaces it with an artificial disc or bone graft.

To learn about why our minimally invasive surgery is a safer and effective option than traditional open back surgery, contact Laser Spine Institute today for a no-cost review* of your MRI and to find out if you’re a candidate for our procedures.

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