Spinal stenosis commonly occurs due to degenerative changes in the discs and joints of the spine. It may also occur from significant narrowing into the spinal canal space or from a combination of changes that all lead to stenosis.
“Stenosis” refers to a narrowing of the spinal canal to a degree at which the spinal cord or nerve roots may be compromised. Spinal stenosis can occur throughout the spine but is most common in the lower back. It’s most dangerous to have spinal stenosis in the neck due to the presence of the spinal cord. In the neck, this is referred to as “cervical spinal stenosis” and in the lower back as “lumbar spinal stenosis.”
If only a small amount of spinal narrowing occurs, no pain will be present in patients with spinal stenosis. However, spinal stenosis may lead to leg pain, numbness, and/or tingling. In advanced cases, patients may also have weakness in the neck, back, or legs.
In most situations of lumbar stenosis, the symptoms improve when the patient leans forward or is sitting down. Typically, painful sensations shoot down the legs while walking and diminish when you’re not in motion. The leg sensations sometimes mimic sciatica.
If left untreated, symptoms typically worsen with time since degenerative arthritis is a progressive disease that gradually becomes more severe. The compression on the nerves from lumbar spinal stenosis can lead to increasing weakness and loss of function of the legs. It can also lead to loss of bowel and bladder control and loss of sexual function.
For mild spinal stenosis treatment, our in-house physical therapy is often used in conjunction with medications to stabilize and improve symptoms. Our physical therapy program assists in calming pain and inflammation and improving mobility and strength. Physical therapy can gently stretch the joints and muscles in spine to provide symptom relief.
Chiropractic manipulation should never be performed with spinal stenosis. When medications and therapy fail to improve symptoms, steroid injections can reduce inflammation surrounding the nerves to ease pain and protect the spinal cord.
Spinal stenosis may progress to become worse. Surgery for spinal stenosis is warranted in cases of cervical myelopathy or intractable lumbar spinal stenosis. Multiple surgical procedures exist to treat stenosis and depend on your specific pathology. All surgery options at Ogden Clinic share the goal of relieving pressure on the spinal cord. To schedule a visit with a spine specialist in northern Utah, please give us a call at (801) 475-3000.