What is moderate spinal stenosis?
Moderate spinal stenosis is the intermediate stage of spinal stenosis — a category somewhere between mild and severe spinal stenosis. When you have moderate spinal stenosis, the symptoms are a constant reminder that your spinal canal is continuing to narrow in some areas, and as this occurs, you may have trouble standing up straight, walking for long distances or getting out of bed without considerable pain.
Perhaps a greater concern with spinal stenosis is the fact that it can be a progressive condition, so a person experiencing the symptoms of moderate spinal stenosis may eventually have to contend with the condition worsening into severe spinal stenosis. All cases of spinal stenosis, whether mild, moderate or severe, involve a narrowing of the spinal canal (which surrounds the spinal cord) and/or the foramina between spinal vertebrae (which surround nerve roots branching off the spinal cord).
This narrowing often occurs when bulging discs, herniated discs, inflamed ligaments or other tissues degenerate with age, and eventually, this deterioration can put pressure on nerve roots and the spinal cord. When nerve tissue is compressed in this way, the result is usually pain and discomfort in the neck, back and extremities.
Initially, with mild spinal stenosis, you may experience occasional lower back pain or on-and-off stiffness in your neck. However, you typically won’t be prevented from performing your daily tasks or engaging in most activities. Your doctor will likely prescribe medically conservative treatments, such as rest, pain medication and stretching, and your symptoms may go away.
Moderate spinal stenosis symptoms
If symptoms persist and become more intense, or if new symptoms develop even after you have carefully followed a treatment regimen, then your condition may likely be classified as moderate spinal stenosis.
In this case, symptoms can include:
- Stiffness or numbness in the neck or back when you sit too long or upon rising the morning
- Persistent pain or numbness that radiates down the shoulders and arms from the neck, or down the legs from the lower back
- Restricted movement or flexibility that becomes worse with continued movement
Living with moderate spinal stenosis typically means that your activities are limited but not completely hampered by its symptoms. At this point, your doctor may try corticosteroid injections in your neck or back. These epidural steroid injections for spinal stenosis contain a powerful anti-inflammatory that helps reduce swelling and take pressure off nerves. This may be all that is needed to reduce or eliminate symptoms so that you can proceed with physical rehabilitation and regain your lifestyle.
Moderate spinal stenosis treatments
If injections and other nonsurgical therapies fail, and your pain and discomfort are unrelenting, your doctor may recommend open spine surgery. If your spinal stenosis is severe enough to warrant surgery, then consider Laser Spine Institute’s minimally invasive procedures, which are safer and effective alternatives to open spine surgery.^ Reach out to our dedicated team to find out if you are a candidate for our minimally invasive procedures, which are performed on an outpatient basis.
Laser Spine Institute is the leader in minimally invasive spine surgery and has helped more than 75,000 patients find relief from chronic neck or back pain. Our surgeons use a less than 1-inch incision and muscle-sparing techniques in order to alleviate symptoms while resulting in less bleeding and a lower risk of complication compared to traditional open back surgery.^ Contact us today and ask for a no-cost MRI review* to determine if our procedures would be effective in relieving your moderate spinal stenosis symptoms.