What causes spinal stenosis?
Spinal stenosis is a degenerative spine condition that refers to the gradual narrowing of the spinal canal in the spinal column. This condition is usually a result of the gradual deterioration of the spinal anatomy, although it can also be associated with a neck or back injury. The presence of spinal stenosis isn’t necessarily symptomatic — in fact, many people have spinal stenosis without knowing it. However, should the stenosis result in nerve compression, painful symptoms can appear and cause chronic issues that can take you away from the activities and people you love.
In a healthy spine, the spinal cord travels from the brain through the spinal canal, with individual nerve roots branching off the cord and extending into the body through canals between the vertebrae. These canals act as sheaths, protecting the nerve from damage. However, over time, the canals can become clogged or constricted in a number of ways:
- The discs between the vertebrae can herniate or bulge into the spinal canal
- Bone spurs (osteophytes) can form
- Inflamed soft tissue may encroach the nerves
- The ligaments of the spine can calcify
- Vertebrae can become misaligned (spondylolisthesis)
- Other problems may develop (infection, tumor, disease)
Regular wear and tear eventually takes its toll on the spinal anatomy, and structures naturally begin to degrade. Chronic pain and other symptoms develop in the event that the canals constrict to the point that they irritate the nerves they are tasked to protect.
Treatment for spinal stenosis varies, depending on the exact cause and severity of the narrowing. In some cases, conservative, non-surgical treatment (such as medication and physical therapy) may provide sufficient nerve decompression and pain relief, but surgery is occasionally required to provide the room necessary for the nerves to travel unencumbered.
If you are considering spine surgery to alleviate the effects of spinal stenosis, contact Laser Spine Institute. We understand how chronic pain from spinal stenosis can negatively affect your quality of life, and we are dedicated to providing you with safer and effective alternatives to highly invasive open spine surgery. We offer both minimally invasive decompression and minimally invasive stabilization procedures to treat spinal stenosis in an outpatient setting. Our minimally invasive spine surgery is often the clinically appropriate surgical first choice and provides many advantages versus open neck or back surgery. To learn more about these advantages and how you may be a candidate for one of our procedures, contact us today.