It’s estimated that up to 500,000 individuals suffer from spinal stenosis, a painful degenerative condition that develops when the nerves in your spine become compressed. This happens with the narrowing of your small spinal canal, which houses your spinal cord and nerve roots.
Sometimes referred to as “baby boomer back,” spinal stenosis mostly affects people 50 and over, although younger people who have narrower-than-normal spinal canals or scoliosis can be affected too.
Dr. Ronak D, Patel and the Regenerative Spine and Pain Institute team are well-versed in treating spinal stenosis, with great success.
They offer superior orthopedic care and a diverse menu of advanced nonsurgical treatments that reflect their commitment to tailoring care to each patient’s individual needs and history of pain. Dr. Patel is board-certified in both anesthesiology and pain management.
Time marches on, often to the detriment of your spine
There are two types of spinal stenosis back pain — lumbar stenosis and cervical stenosis. Cervical stenosis develops when the nerves affected are in your neck area, while lumbar stenosis, the most common type, puts the “pinch” in your lower back.
Your lumbar spine contains five large vertebrae, stacked one on top of the other. Each vertebra is made up of a large bony disc and two facet joints. The facet joints connect the vertebrae to one another and enable you to move your spine.
The vertebrae also protect your spinal cord, which runs through a canal in the center of the stacked vertebrae. Over time, this canal can narrow because of arthritis or other conditions, resulting in excessive pressure on your spinal cord and spinal nerve roots.
The range of spinal stenosis symptoms includes:
- Lumbar spine pain
- Leg or buttocks numbness
- Neck pain (with cervical spinal stenosis)
- Sciatica (shooting pains down buttocks and leg)
- Problems with balance
- Impaired ability to walk
You can be asymptomatic with spinal stenosis, but the older you get, the more likely it is that you’ll experience symptoms and chronic pain. When you do have pain, you may notice that you get relief when you sit down or lean forward.
In severe cases, you can even face incontinence problems and numbness that progresses to paralysis.
What leads to spinal stenosis?
Arthritis is the No. 1 cause of spinal stenosis. As you age, your discs — which separate your vertebrae and serve as your back’s shock absorbers — essentially become dehydrated and begin to shrink. The connective facet joints begin to take on the burden of your body’s weight.
The undue pressure created on your bones may even cause them to grate against each other. A vicious cycle commences, and the grating wears your cartilage away, which should be protecting those facet joints.
Your body may then produce more bone to make up for the lost cartilage. Bony protrusions called bone spurs develop and narrow your spinal column.
Additional causes of spinal stenosis include thickened ligaments, slipped discs, spinal trauma, and tumors. No matter what causes your spinal stenosis, you likely care about one thing above all others: getting relief.
After Dr. Patel arrives at a diagnosis of spinal stenosis, he creates a treatment plan that’s guided by careful analysis of your medical and back pain history, a physical exam, his observations from reviewing images of your spine, and your goals for recovery.
Are there effective treatments for spinal stenosis?
Dr. Patel’s approach to treatment is multi-faceted and reflects your combined teamwork. He may advise a combination of lifestyle practices and noninvasive or minimally invasive treatments:
- Self-care strategies, like a nutritious diet and spine-safe exercise
- A course of physical therapy
- Chiropractic treatment
Dr. Patel’s wide range of safe treatments makes it easier to find the one perfectly suited to your and your needs.
Contact one of our two offices today to schedule a consultation. Give us a call or take advantage of our convenient online booking tool.