According to studies, degenerative spine issues are identified in an estimated 95% of individuals by the age of 50—including spinal stenosis, a condition that occurs mostly in men and women over the age of 50. This painful condition is often a result of back trauma, nerve compression and other scenarios and injuries in which abnormal pressure has been placed on the spinal cord. Spinal stenosis can manifest in two ways: cervical stenosis or lumbar stenosis.
At OrthoAspen we offer comprehensive spine services from emergency care to surgical treatment and recovery options. We are dedicated to offering patients the most progressive, innovative approaches in specialty orthopedic care. It’s our goal to ensure our patients have the best opportunity to heal and recover so they can return to what they enjoy doing most.
Cervical stenosis refers to compression of the spinal cord. This compression, also referred to as myelopathy, occurs over a period of time. It’s common for spinal stenosis patients to experience:
- Pain in the neck area radiating to the arms and hands
- Numbness or weakness in the legs
- Problems with gait and balance
- Issues with hand coordination
- Sensation of tingling / pins and needles
- Bladder and bowel problems
- Loss of function (paraplegia)—more rarely
Potential causes of cervical stenosis include:
- Thickening of spinal ligaments
- Osteophytes (bony overgrowths)
- Bulging or herniated disc
- Degenerative disc disease
Lumbar stenosis refers to the compression of spinal nerves resulting from the narrowing of the spinal canal, and is one of the common causes of low back pain. Spinal stenosis can also affect the spine in the neck region. One of the causes for spinal stenosis is aging, Paget’s disease, achondroplasia, spinal tumors and spinal injuries. As age advances the chances of developing osteoarthritis, disc degeneration and thickening of ligaments may increase, causing spinal stenosis.
Although some individuals may not exhibit any symptoms of lumbar stenosis, others may experience:
- Back pain
- Burning/aching pain that radiates from the buttocks to the legs (sciatica)
- Weakness in the legs, also known as “foot drop”
In addition to a thorough physical evaluation, your OrthoAspen doctor will go over your medical history, current health status and conduct a neurological examination. Diagnostic tests such as X-rays, CT and MRI scans and/or a myelography may be ordered to help further pinpoint areas of damage.
At OrthoAspen we understand how valuable having an active lifestyle is for our patients. It’s our goal whenever possible to attempt conservative treatment protocols for both cervical and lumbar spinal stenosis.
Both cervical and lumbar stenosis may be treated with non-surgical treatment approaches such as:
- Use of pain medications
- Physical therapy
- Steroid injections
In chronic cases of cervical or lumbar spinal stenosis, or those in which a patient doesn’t get relief from non-surgical treatments to address pain, surgery may be required.
The two main surgical procedures to treat lumbar spinal stenosis are laminectomy and spinal fusion.
This procedure involves the removal of the bone, bone spurs, and ligaments that compress the nerves.
- Spinal fusion
In this procedure, two or more vertebrae are permanently fused together.
No matter what treatment pathway is suggested for spinal stenosis, it’s important for our patients to know that our orthopedic specialists will do everything possible to ensure a quick recovery without compromising your safety and comfort.
If you’d like to schedule a visit with one of our orthopedic spine experts, contact us any time at 970-544-1289.