What is Spinal Stenosis?
Spinal Stenosis means the narrowing of the spinal canal. As with a closet, if you stuff too much clothes in the closet, it is hard to move around. This is the same idea with the spinal cord. If there is pressure from the bones, ligaments and disks, it is hard for the nerves to do their job and move around, especially when the legs and arms are so far away.
What are the common symptoms of Spinal Stenosis?
Spinal Stenosis can happen at any level of the spine. The symptoms will vary depending on what part of the spine is involved. Commonly, patients will experience tiredness of the legs and cramping of the legs. They need to lean on a shopping cart when shopping. Also, they often have to sit in order to relieve the pain in the legs.
If the Spinal Stenosis is in the neck, this can lead to difficulty with walking and difficulty with fine motor tasks such as cutting food or even writing ones name.
So how is my Spinal Stenosis treated? Treatment is based on the degree of Spinal Stenosis. As long as there is no neurological damage, conservative management is the main stay for treatment. This includes physical therapy, injections and anti-inflammatory medications. When conservative management fails, surgical options can be discussed. Surgical options will be tailored to the patient and the condition. Often, a decompressive laminectomy is all that is needed. This can be done as a same day procedure, but again, this depends on the degree of the spinal stenosis and to what is exactly causing the Spinal Stenosis. I tailor every surgical decision making process to each unique patient and their specific disc pathology. This can vary, obviously, depending on the pathology and the patient. There are no guarantees, but described above are common scenarios that it is in the evidenced based literature.