Spinal stenosis — overview and treatment options

Spinal stenosis is degenerative spine condition that describes the narrowing of the spinal canal. A degenerative spine condition is any complication or disease in the spine that is caused by the natural aging process or wear and tear of the spine over the years. Most people over the age of 50 begin to develop some type of degenerative spine condition, though most go unnoticed for several years.

Spinal stenosis is often a result of another spine condition that is causing the space in between the spinal cord and the walls of the spinal canal to narrow. If you are experiencing chronic lower back pain and stiffness, you should consult your physician to determine the cause of your symptoms. Mild spinal stenosis can be treated with conservative therapies, but advanced spinal stenosis may need a surgical procedure to correct. Your physician will diagnose the cause of your pain and help you determine the best treatment option for your needs.

As you continue to research spinal stenosis, we encourage you to reach out to our care team with any questions. Our team is ready to help you learn about your spine condition and the different forms of treatment available to you. Our goal is to empower each patient with education so you can make an informed decision about your spine care needs.

Causes of spinal stenosis

Spinal stenosis is commonly a result of another degenerative spine condition, such as spondylolisthesis, arthritis of the spine or herniated disc.

The spine is comprised of several small bones, called vertebrae, stacked on top of one another. In between each vertebra is a sponge-like disc and a joint that supports the vertebra and gives the spine mobility. Over the years, as the spine undergoes repetitive motions, lifting weight and possible weight gain, the vertebrae of the spine become compressed. This is particularly true in the lumbar spine (lower back) because it is responsible for supporting most of the body’s weight. As the vertebrae compress, the disc and joint between each vertebra also compresses, causing the gradual deterioration of the discs and joints.

When the vertebrae clamp the disc in between the vertebrae, the disc tends to flatten and expand, much like pressing Play-Doh between your palms. As the disc flattens and expands, the space between the spinal cord and the spinal canal becomes smaller. In this particular example, a herniated disc caused by a degenerative spine has caused spinal stenosis — the narrowing of the spinal canal.

For this reason, spinal stenosis is often found in conjunction with other degenerative spine conditions. Because of its degenerative nature, spinal stenosis is most commonly located in the lumbar spine.

Treatment options of spinal stenosis

Some mild cases of spinal stenosis can be treated with conservative methods of treatment. Chiropractic care will help to lengthen the spine and decompress the vertebrae by stretching and moving the spine into proper alignment. Physical therapy will help strengthen the muscles around the spine to relieve some of the pressure on the vertebrae in the lumbar spine and to hold the spinal components in the proper position.

However, if you have sought conservative treatments for your spinal stenosis and you have not found any lasting relief, you might consider surgical treatment to relieve your chronic back pain.

At Laser Spine Institute, we offer minimally invasive spine surgery to treat spinal stenosis. Our minimally invasive decompression surgery can treat more mild cases of spinal stenosis by simply removing a portion of the diseased disc or vertebra in the spine that is compressing a nerve and causing the spinal canal to narrow. More advanced cases of spinal stenosis may benefit from our minimally invasive stabilization surgery. During this procedure, the surgeon will remove the entire diseased disc or joint and insert an implant to stabilize the spine and prevent future narrowing of the spinal canal.

All of our minimally invasive spine surgeries are performed through a small, 1-inch incision. We have proven safer and more effective procedures than traditional open back surgery. We’ve helped over 75,000 people find relief from chronic neck and back pain, and we are confident we can help you find relief from spinal stenosis.