Spinal stenosis symptoms tend to worsen over time

Spinal stenosis is often a result of a degenerative spine condition that is causing the space between the spine and the walls of the spinal canal to narrow. These conditions are often a degenerative disc disease, like a herniated disc or bulging disc, bone spurs, or arthritis of the spine.

As the name denotes, degenerative spine conditions are conditions that develop over time and gradually degenerate. Because the spine develops degenerative conditions after years of wear and tear and sometimes weight gain, the symptoms will develop slowly and continually worsen if not treated. If a nerve root becomes pinched in the narrowing spinal canal, the continually increasing pressure on the pinched nerve over time will only make the symptoms worse.

In order to help avoid debilitating pain, it is important to recognize the symptoms of spinal stenosis or another degenerative spine condition early on so you and your physician can work together to find an effective treatment option.

Recognizing spinal stenosis symptoms

The symptoms of spinal stenosis are really just symptoms of nerve compression because the pinched nerve in the narrowed spinal canal is the source of pain and discomfort. Because the spinal canal allows nerve pathways to travel from the spine out to the extremities, a pinched nerve in the spinal canal could result in both local pain at the spine and radiating pain into the nearby extremity.

For example, if spinal narrowing leads to a compressed nerve root in the lower back, it could lead to a loss of sensation or motor function in the buttocks, thighs, calves or feet. Similarly, nerve root compression in the neck (cervical) region of the spine could affect the upper back, arms or hands.

If you begin to experience pain and other symptoms in the extremities that are not otherwise explainable, it is important to see a physician as soon as possible to obtain a diagnosis. This is particularly important if the symptoms are chronic, which means they recur or are constantly felt for a month or longer. Left untreated, spinal stenosis symptoms can worsen and may ultimately cause a decrease in your quality of life.

Treatment options for spinal stenosis symptoms

If detected early, many forms of spinal stenosis can be effectively treated through nonsurgical treatments, such as physical therapy and yoga — two options that stretch and strengthen the spine to relieve pressure on the pinched nerve. Other conservative treatments include pain medication, cortisone injections and chiropractic care.

Some patients may require surgical treatment if all conservative treatments have been exhausted and pain relief has not been achieved. In this case, the minimally invasive surgery at Laser Spine Institute can help provide pain relief for patients suffering from spinal stenosis.

Depending on the cause of the spinal stenosis, our surgeons may recommend a minimally invasive decompression surgery or a minimally invasive stabilization surgery. Our decompression surgery removes a small portion of a damaged disc or bone spur in order to make more room in the spinal canal and relieve pressure on a trapped nerve. A stabilization procedure removes the entire damaged disc or vertebra altogether and replaces it with an artificial disc and/or bone grafts from the patient’s own body.

Our minimally invasive spine surgery has helped more than 75,000 patients find relief from chronic neck and back pain and has earned a 96 patient satisfaction score^. For more information about how our minimally invasive spine surgery can help treat your spinal stenosis, and to find out if you are a candidate for surgery at Laser Spine Institute, contact us today.

Browse Related Resources