Do you have spinal stenosis? Symptoms and treatment options

If your doctor has told you that you have spinal stenosis, you may be researching what exactly this is. Stenosis is usually an age-related condition that describes narrowing of the nerve pathways in the spine. This is often caused by the gradual deterioration of the spine through normal everyday activity. This natural wear usually goes unnoticed until there is interference with the nerves that run through the spine.

With spinal stenosis, the narrowing that occurs in the spinal column can compress either the spinal cord or the nerve roots that exit the spine, causing symptoms that can make even your simplest daily activities difficult or impossible to accomplish.

What are the symptoms of spinal stenosis?

Spinal stenosis is closely related to other degenerative spine conditions. The actual narrowing of the spine might be due to a bone spur or a bulging or herniated disc. When the already limited space the nerves have to travel through is narrowed even a little bit, nerve compression that causes chronic pain results. The exact symptoms experienced will depend on the location of the narrowing.

For example, stenosis in the cervical (upper) spine can cause the following symptoms:

  • Pain, weakness, numbness or tingling in the shoulders, arms and hands
  • Pain in the neck or shoulders
  • Trouble holding onto things

Here are some common symptoms you might experience from stenosis in the lumbar (lower) region:

  • Pain or cramping in the legs
  • Burning pain in the hips or buttocks
  • Tingling or numbness running down to the feet
  • Weakness in the knees

Treatment options

In most cases of spinal stenosis, the first step is a course of conservative treatment. Always consult with your doctor to develop the best care plan for your needs and specific situation. Treatment options include physical therapy, spinal injections, hot/cold therapy, rest and medication.

When you have completed several weeks or months of these conservative methods without seeing the pain relief you require for your active life, surgery may become an option. At Laser Spine Institute, our skilled surgeons perform minimally invasive spine surgery that is a safer and more effective alternative to traditional back surgery.^ For many patients, our minimally invasive decompression surgery is recommended to remove a small piece of the damaged spine from the pinched nerve.

However, if the cause of your stenosis is due to severe degeneration and you have been recommended for a fusion, our minimally invasive stabilization surgery is an alternative to traditional open back fusion. Because we take a muscle-sparing approach to spine surgery, our patients can experience a shorter recovery time and lower risk of complication^ compared to traditional spine procedures. Contact us to learn more.

We offer a no-cost MRI review* to determine if you are a potential candidate for one of our procedures.