Spinal Stenosis Treatment

Also known as Degenerative Disc Disease (DDD), Lumbar radiculopathy, cervical radiculopathy, pinched nerve, herniated intervertebral disc, prolapsed intervertebral disc, ruptured disc, slipped disc, degenerative disc, extruded disc, spinal claudication.

Spinal Stenosis Information

Definition: Spinal stenosis is a medical condition in which the size of the central canal in the spinal column is too narrow resulting in spinal cord or nerve root compression.

Overview: Spinal stenosis a potentially crippling disease, may involve any portion of the spinal column, including the cervical spine (neck), thoracic spine (upper back), and the lumbar spine (low back). Spinal stenosis may be a result of a congenital deformity from birth, or may be acquired after an acute injury or progressive deterioration over time. Acquired spinal stenosis may be a result of an intervertebral disc protrusion or herniation, an acute vertebral fracture, or osteoarthritis (degenerative joint disease) of the joints of the spine (facet joints), which cause these joints to enlarge, crowing the spinal canal. Whatever the cause of spinal stenosis, the result is a gradual crowding of the spinal cord or the nerve roots in the spinal canal. The spinal cord or nerve roots may become compressed resulting in severe damage to these critical structures of the central nervous system. The result may be severe pain, numbness of the upper or lower extremities, loss of muscle strength of the upper or lower extremities, loss of sexual function, even bowel or urinary incontinence. These changes may occur suddenly after an acute injury or gradually as in the case of degenerative joint or degenerative disc disease. Coexisting medical conditions such as scoliosis or osteoporosis may exacerbate the effects of spinal stenosis.

Spinal Stenosis Symptoms

  • Pain in the neck, mid back, or low back
  • Pain may be of sudden or gradual onset
  • Pain aggravated with movement of the spine
  • Pain is aggravated with prolonged sitting, standing, or walking
  • Pain is relieved with bending forward
  • Pain may radiate into the upper or lower extremities
  • Pain may be associated with numbness, tingling, or weakness of the upper or lower extremities
  • Sexual dysfunction/erectile dysfunction/impotence
  • Urinary or bowel incontinence
  • Spinal Stenosis Treatments

    As with most diseases of the spinal column, there is no cure. The standard treatments for pain due to spinal stenosis are over-the-counter (OTC) and prescription narcotic and non-narcotic medication, rest, physical therapy, steroid injections, and traction. As most patients who suffer with this type of pain soon realize, these treatments are usually not sufficient and many, especially the oral medications, are associated with serious side effects such as sedation, nausea, constipation, and even addiction. Extended use of some over-the-counter (OTC) medications such as ibuprofen, naproxen, and acetaminophen may even result in stomach ulcers, kidney failure, heart failure, and liver failure. Many sufferers with pain due to spinal stenosis often search for alternative solutions to the usual over-the-counter and prescription medications. Surgery may be required when the excruciating pain does not resolve or when severe nerve damage is evident. However, even with the best surgeon, surgery is not always successful and in many cases, the patient’s condition worsens.

    Sudden severe pain, especially in the chest, arms, or head, or pain in any area of the body that does not resolve after a couple of weeks, should always be evaluated by a physician to be certain that other medical conditions, including heart disease, infections, or even cancer is not the underlying cause of pain.

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