Connection between spinal stenosis and arthritis

One of the most common causes of spinal stenosis, the narrowing of the spinal canal, is arthritis of the spine. Spinal arthritis, by definition, means inflammation of joints, bones and soft tissue. As the components of the spine become inflamed and grow beyond their normal size, the space in the spinal canal may become narrowed, leaving less room for the nerves to travel to and from the spine.

While spinal stenosis and spinal arthritis are sometimes left undetected, the two combined can cause a nerve to become trapped in the spinal canal, resulting in pain and discomfort. If you are experiencing pain in your back with certain movements, gradual onset pain or radiating pain in your extremities, you should consult your doctor to determine the cause of your symptoms.

If you do have arthritis of the spine that is causing spinal stenosis, your doctor can help you find an effective treatment to relieve your pain. To learn more about the correlation between spinal stenosis and arthritis as well as the treatments available to relieve your chronic symptoms, read the following article.

Types of spinal arthritis that cause spinal stenosis

The most common and often the most debilitating type of spinal arthritis is osteoarthritis. This type of arthritis can cause spinal stenosis the following ways:

  • The cartilage covering the joints that connect the vertebrae can wear out and the connecting facet joints may start rubbing against each other.
  • The synovial fluid that lubricates these joints can thin out or dry up over time.
  • These conditions can encourage the growth of bone spurs in the spinal canal.
  • Bone spurs protrude into the spinal canal, causing it to narrow.
  • When the spinal canal narrows like this, nerve roots and the spinal cord can become compressed.
  • Nerve roots emerging from the spinal canal are connected to nerves that coordinate motion and sensation in other parts of the body. When the nerves are pinched, in this way, they signal pain in the neck and back, as well as pain, numbness, weakness and tingling in the extremities.
  • When these symptoms become severe, it may lead to trouble walking, standing and even sitting.

Treatment for spinal arthritis and spinal stenosis

If your spinal stenosis symptoms are mild, you may be placed on over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medication by your doctor to help reduce the inflammation of arthritis. Another method of relieving the inflammation of arthritis is through an epidural steroid injection. This is a powerful anti-inflammatory medication that can be injected into the spinal area to help reduce inflammation and provide enough immediate short-term relief for a person to engage in a physical rehabilitation treatment program.

If your condition does not respond to these conservative therapies after several weeks or months, your doctor may recommend surgery to relieve the pressure on your nerve roots or spinal cord. Traditional open back surgery involves a lengthy recovery period for most individuals. Laser Spine Institute’s minimally invasive outpatient procedures are a safer and effective alternative to traditional open spine surgery and have shorter recuperation periods.^

Patients with arthritis of the spine can undergo our minimally invasive facet thermal ablation performed in conjunction with a decompression procedure. During this procedure, our highly skilled surgeons reduce the inflammation caused by arthritis and deaden the immediate surrounding nerves in order to reduce the pain and symptoms of a pinched nerve. Our minimally invasive spine surgery offers a patient satisfaction score of 98^ and has been used to treat more than 75,000 patients. For more information, contact Laser Spine Institute today.

We will be happy to provide you with a free MRI review* to determine if you are a candidate for our minimally invasive outpatient procedures.

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