Spinal stenosis occurs when the spaces within the spinal canal become narrower, often putting pressure on the nerves that are rooted there.
Lumbar stenosis, or the narrowing of the spinal canal in your lower back, is the most common form of the condition. Lumbar stenosis can cause you to experience pain or cramping in one or both of your legs when you walk or after standing for long stretches; the pain usually eases when you sit or bend forward. Other common symptoms include:
When spinal stenosis affects your neck, it’s called cervical stenosis. In addition to causing neck pain, cervical stenosis can cause:
In its early stages, spinal stenosis may not cause symptoms. When they do begin to appear, they’re likely to worsen gradually without treatment.
Although someone who’s born with a smaller spinal canal can develop spinal stenosis at an early age, it’s usually the result of the natural wear-and-tear that comes with aging. The process typically begins with some type of structural change such as:
Spinal stenosis is most common in adults older than 50.
After discussing your symptoms and medical history and performing a comprehensive physical exam, your primary care physician may order one or more diagnostic imaging tests, such as an X-ray, MRI scan, or CT scan. In addition to helping confirm your diagnosis, these tests can help rule out other conditions with similar symptoms.
There are a variety of non-invasive treatment methods that can be very effective for managing spinal stenosis; finding the right treatment approach depends on the location of the stenosis and severity of your symptoms.
Physical therapy can help you build strength and endurance while maintaining a flexible, stable spine, while over-the-counter pain relievers and steroid injections can help reduce pain and inflammation.
If other treatments and therapies don’t help, or if your symptoms are disabling, surgery may be your best option. Dr. Melamed performs minimally invasive endoscopic surgical techniques to treat spinal stenosis safely and effectively.
Minimally invasive surgery aided by an endoscope can be done with minimal disruption to surrounding tissues, which means it comes with fewer risks and promotes faster recovery.