Spinal stenosis happens when the spinal canal or space around the spinal cord and nerves becomes narrowed. This can lead to pressure on the very important nerves that are carried within the spinal cord. As well as the pain that arises from compression of the nerves, other signals that would normally be passed to the brain along the nerves are blocked. That is why we can experience numbness, weakness or lack of co-ordination, especially in the legs.
What is Spinal Stenosis Treatment?
Spinal stenosis treatment can be very different depending on the cause of the condition. There can be many reasons why the spinal canal has become narrower. Frequently, it is caused by arthritis in the spine which may have several effects. Bone spurs may form, invading the spinal canal. Ligaments in the spine may become stiffened by calcification. The tissue around the vertebral joints may become thickened by inflammation, impinging on the area around the spinal cord, or the discs between the vertebrae may be degenerating.
There are also some other, rarer conditions that can cause spinal stenosis. A few people are born with it. Others may develop it due to tumors in the spine, Paget’s disease which can cause swelling of bones and joints in older people, scoliosis or curvature of the spine, or other skeletal and articular diseases and conditions.
The most common form of spinal stenosis treatment is a regime of exercises to strengthen the muscles around the back and improve posture. Provided pain is not so severe as to prevent a person doing these exercises, they can be of great benefit. Stronger muscles will give better support to the spine and improving the posture keeps the spine straight, reducing compression of the spinal cord and nerves.
If you are over when diagnosed, then your doctor is likely to recommend that you lose weight. This is another important factor in reducing the pressure on the spine. Even losing 10 pounds can make a difference.
You may also be prescribed with pain relief medication as part of your spinal stenosis treatment. This is likely to include anti inflammatories, either nonsteroidal (NSAIDs) or steroidal (e.g. Prednisone, Medrol). By reducing inflammation around the vertebrae and nerves, pain can be relieved.
Some patients will be given steroidal anti inflammatory medication in the form of an injection of cortisone and novocaine directly to the area, known as an epidural injection. This avoids steroids flowing all around the body and can be effective in relieving pain for several weeks to months. However, this type of spinal stenosis treatment does not work for every case and may not necessarily be recommended by your doctor.
Other Pain Associated with Spinal Stenosis Treatment
In many cases, the pain accompanying spinal stenosis is caused by a ruptured or herniated disc. In this situation your doctor may recommend surgery to remove the displaced fragments of disc. This surgery has around an 85% to 90% success rate in relieving symptoms.
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While it is true that not all forms of treatment for spinal stenosis are effective in every case, your doctor will work with you to find something that is successful for you if at all possible. Have patience and persist with a treatment that may take a few weeks to work. If you follow all of your doctor’s recommendations, then spinal stenosis treatment can be very effective.