What Is Spinal Stenosis? Know The Symptoms And Treatment Options For This Condition
In simple words spinal stenosis is loss of space and narrowing of the spinal canal, causing compression of the spinal nerves. Disabling back pain and leg pain of spinal stenosis can make the ageing process hard for several individuals.
Spinal stenosis can cause pain in back and one or both legs
- Spinal stenosis lead to compression of spinal nerves
- Burning sensation in the sole is one of the symptoms
- Medication can help reduce pain
The basic spinal structure is like a canal formed by series of spinal bones with plenty of space normally to allow safe passage for the spinal cord and nerves, each segment of the spine is formed by two spinal bones and the inter-vertebral disc in between. Due to degeneration and ageing, this shock absorbing disc slowly bulges and ruptures and it reduces in height. This leads to other changes like arthritis and enlargement of spinal joints, thickening and buckling of covering ligaments. All these changes make the space inside the spinal canal narrow, resulting in to pinching of spinal nerves, causing irritation and inflammation. This condition is called spinal stenosis.
Everything about Spinal Stenosis
Usually these changes are felt in old age but in some people the spinal canal is narrow by birth and these people can feel the symptoms much earlier in life. Due to the sneezing of spinal nerves and swelling following symptoms may be felt in back and leg.
Numbness or tingling in the foot or leg
Burning sensation in the sole
Feeling of vague heaviness in the legs and feet
Pain in the back and one or both legs
Cramps in the calf or legs, disturbing sleep at night
Feeling of pins / needles in the legs and feet
Pain, burning or tingling in the back
Pain or cramps in the legs on walking or standing
Pain is initially reduced on bending forwards or rest
Weakness in the legs
Problem in balancing
Sudden severe compression of nerves can cause paralysis or incontinence
Proper analysis of the patient and MRI can pin point the exact level in the spinal canal and also the grading of the narrowing. In the initial stages it is treated by specific medicines to relieve pain, reduce inflammation and swelling of the spinal nerves and improve functioning of the nerves.
Advice regarding proper posture, ideal weight, lifestyle modification is given according to the analysis. Exercises and physiotherapy to reduce the pain and symptoms are prescribed.
Moderately severe pain can be managed by injections at the specific spots in the spine to reduce the swelling of the nerves and reduce pain.
Severe compression is treated with surgery, the aim is to decompress the nerves by enlarging the spinal canal by cutting the spinal bones and in some cases fusion of the spinal segments with metal implants to stop motion at the painful area.
Advanced Treatments :
Advancing age also brings with it other problems like high blood pressure, diabetes, heart, lung and kidney problems, obesity, which all make it difficult for the major surgery and anaesthesia.
Softening of bones and degeneration can accelerate problems in ageing spine and would require extensive surgery.
To overcome the problems encountered in the open spine surgery, spine surgery has evolved into Endoscopic Spine surgery.
(Dr. Anand Kavi, Endoscopic Surgeon, Apollo Spectra Pune)
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