Spinal stenosis is a condition characterised by the narrowing of the spinal canal, resulting in pressure on the spinal cord and nerves. This narrowing can occur in various parts of the spine, with the neck and lower back being the most commonly affected areas.
Spinal stenosis is a medical condition characterised by the narrowing of the spaces within the spine, leading to compression of the spinal cord and/or the nerves that branch out from it. This narrowing can occur in the cervical (neck), thoracic (mid-back), or lumbar (lower back) regions of the spine.
The primary cause of spinal stenosis is osteoarthritis, a degenerative condition that leads to joint wear and tear. Additional factors contributing to spinal stenosis include:
- Herniated discs
- Thickened ligaments
Symptoms of spinal stenosis vary based on location and severity. Common indications include:
- Back or neck pain
- Numbness or weakness in the arms or legs
- Radiating pain down the arms or legs
- Difficulty walking and legs feeling numb ,heavy and weak or loss of dexterity hands, weak grip or dropping items.
- Bowel and bladder problems
Diagnosis of spinal stenosis involves a comprehensive approach:
- Specialist Consultation: Your doctor will inquire about your symptoms and medical history, followed by a physical examination.
- Imaging Tests: Usually an MRI can confirm the diagnosis but occasionally dynamic x-rays or CT scans may be required.
Treatment options for spinal stenosis are tailored to your condition and its underlying causes. Many individuals find relief through non-surgical approaches, including:
- Physical therapy
- Pain medications
- Epidural steroid injections which are safe but they may only offer temporary relief
- Lifestyle adjustments, such as weight management and avoiding activities that worsen symptoms
In cases where non-surgical treatments prove ineffective, surgical intervention may be recommended to widen the spinal canal and alleviate nerve pressure.
Benefits Of Treatment
Treating spinal stenosis offers several advantages:
- Pain Reduction: Experience relief and improved function.
- Slower Progression: Manage and potentially slow the condition's advancement.
- Complication Prevention: Early treatment can help prevent severe complications, such as nerve damage or paralysis.
Risks Of Treatment
While all treatments, including surgery, carry some level of risk, most treatments for spinal stenosis have relatively low associated risks. The specific risks vary depending on your chosen treatment.
Recovery time hinges on the condition's severity and the chosen treatment. In general, most individuals begin to experience improvement within a few weeks after commencing treatment. However, full recovery may take several months.
While it's not possible to guarantee the prevention of spinal stenosis, you can take steps to reduce your risk:
- Maintain a healthy weight
- Regularly engage in exercise
- Avoid activities that place excessive strain on your spine
Remember, you're not alone on this journey. Make an Appointment for personalised guidance and support. Relief is attainable, and we're here to guide you every step of the way.
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Spinal decompression using an interspinous spacer
Patient:Mr L, aged 48
Treatment:Spinal decompression using an interspinous spacer
Mr Rai's Notes
An MRI scan showed that Mr L had two worn discs and his thecal sac containing the spinal nerves had narrowed. In this case conservative treatment failed. He expected to undergo back surgery and months of rehabilitation, however thanks to a pioneering new procedure using an X-STOP interspinous spacer device, I was able to treat Mr L without a major operation.
He was consented for decompressive surgery. This was possible using a spacer device which was inserted into the lower vertebrae to act as a supportive spring mechanism, relieving nerve pressure and pain. The advantages are that it involves just a small incision, and can usually be done as a day procedure.
When the back pain started I was pretty sure it was due to all the years of hard physical labour building up my engineering company and then renovating my home. So I ignored it and kept going. For two years I took anti-inflammatory painkillers but without them the pain was unbearable. The problem didn't go away, it just got steadily worse. My whole life was affected. I love playing golf but had to stop and I couldn't work on the house. I'd always wanted to water ski but the back problem put an end to any hope of this. I couldn't even tie my shoe laces. Just standing too long caused my legs to tingle and I had to sit.
It was a shock to hear that at 48 I had the spine of a 65 year old, mainly due to the wear and tear on my back from years of heavy physical work. It's a salutary lesson for those in the building industry - take good care of your back. I thought I'd have to have major back surgery and months of rehabilitation that would end my renovation project but Mr Rai suggested I have a device called an X-STOP implanted in my spine.
I was in and out of hospital in just two days and within eight weeks I was back to my normal daily routine and able to lift heavy loads. I am delighted with the result. I can play golf again and looking forward to starting to water ski but most importantly I can finish my house!
I'm only in my late 40s and I've a lot more life to lead. I thought I'd have to have major back surgery and months of rehabilitation but with the procedure Mr Rai recommended, I was in and out of hospital in just two days and within eight weeks, back to my normal daily routine
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