Spinal stenosis is a condition found most often in the lumbar (low) and cervical (neck) spine. The condition occurs when the open spaces of the spinal canal become narrow. As a result, the nerves and spinal cord can get compressed and cause significant chronic pain.
Simple anatomy may cause spinal stenosis, as some people are born with a narrower spinal canal. Spinal stenosis also can develop as a person ages. Bone spurs from arthritic conditions of the spine may grow into the spine and compress the nerves. Similarly, herniated discs may press onto the nerves as well. Injury may also lead to spinal stenosis. Trauma to the spine could result in fractured vertebrae or swollen tissues that may also affect the nerves.
With spinal stenosis, the spinal canal is narrowed, placing pressure on the nerves, causing numbness or weakness. If the nerves in the lower spine are compressed, this feeling can travel from the low back and into the legs and buttocks. In the neck, weakness can spread through the upper extremities. Patients with spinal stenosis typically feel worse after bending over, sitting, or standing for long periods of time. Patients may experience symptoms intermittently at first and then gradually feel more constant pain. Patients generally report that pain can be eased by lying down and resting.
At the TriState Pain Institute, our physicians are experts at treating pain caused by spinal stenosis. One of the critical factors of treatment often depends on the underlying cause. If a herniated disc or swollen tissue is compressing the nerves, providers may recommend anti-inflammatory medication or injections to relieve the pressure that is causing pain. Our team administeres injections in all regions of the spine, and these injections can provide pain relief for several months. If necessary, patients can be referred to a surgeon to have bone spurs removed and the vertebrae repaired. The TriState Pain Institute also offers a number of alternative therapies including electrotherapy and physical therapy, which are just two methods proven to help reduce back pain.