Spinal stenosis is the narrowing of one or more spaces within your spine, leading to a reduction in the space available for spinal cord and nerves roots. The spinal cord is a bundle of nerves that come out of the base of the brain and run down to the center of the spine. The nerve roots, on the other hand, branch out from the cord. The tightened, narrow space can cause the nerves and the spinal cord to become pinched, irritated and compressed leading to pain and sciatica.
There are four regions of the spine:
- Cervical spine
- Lumbar spine
- Thoracic spine
- Sacrum and coccyx
Spinal stenosis typically develops slowly over time, and involves one or more of the following areas of the spine:
- Spinal Canal, which is the hollow space in the center of each vertebra. Both the spinal cord and the nerve roots run through it.
- Canals located at the base of nerves branching out from the spinal cord.
- Openings between each vertebra, through which the nerves leave the spine and travel to other parts of the body.
In a lot of cases, symptoms do not appear even though changes can be seen through X-rays and other imaging tests. Depending on the location and the severity of your spinal stenosis, you can feel pain, tingling, numbing and weakness in your neck, arms, hands, back, legs or feet. Spinal stenosis most commonly develops in the cervical spine and the lumbar spine.
Here are the symptoms of neck (cervical) spinal stenosis:
- Neck pain
- Weakness or clumsiness in the hand, arm, leg or foot
- Balance problems
- Loss of function in hands, for example, inability to write or hold something
- Loss of bladder or bowel control
- Numbness or tingling in the hand, arm, leg or foot
Symptoms for lower back (lumbar) spinal stenosis include:
- Dull ache, tenderness, or a burning pain in the lower back
- Sciatica, that is pain in the buttocks extending down the leg to the foot
- Heavy feeling in legs, leading to cramping
- Weakness in leg or foot
- Numbness or tingling in the buttocks, leg or foot
- Inability to stand for long periods of time, walk or walk downhill because of growing pain
- Pain that lessens when leaning, bending forward a little, sitting or walking uphill
- Loss of bladder or bowel control
People with severe spinal stenosis can have problems with their sexual function too. If you experience any of the symptoms listed above, visit an orthopedic doctor in lahore immediately.
Spinal stenosis can have different causes, but all of them are known to change the structure of the spine, leaving a restricted space around the spinal cord and the nerve roots that exit through the spine. Here are some causes of spinal stenosis:
- Arthritic Spurs
Also known as bone spurs, this condition refers to the overgrowth of bones, which can extend into the spinal canal, narrowing the space.
- Bulging Disks
Herniated or bulging discs are worn out disks, causing their gel-like center to break through the weak outer layer. These discs bulge and can then press on the nerves near them.
- Spinal Fractures or Injuries
Dislocated or broken bones, and inflammation from their damage near the spine can narrow the canal space, leading to spinal stenosis.
- Spinal Cord Cysts or Tumors
Growths within or between the spinal cord can narrow the space and put pressure on the cord and its nerves.
- Thickened Ligaments
Conditions like arthritis can thicken ligaments over time, causing them to bulge in the spinal canal space.
- Congenital Spinal Stenosis
This is a condition in which a person is born with a small spinal canal. Similarly, scoliosis is another congenital spinal deformity that can put people at risk for spinal stenosis.
Treatment usually depends on the location and the severity of the symptoms. For apt diagnosis and treatment, visit the orthopedic surgeon in Islamabad. Treatments can range from physical therapy to spinal stenosis surgery (in worst cases). You can also be prescribed oral medications such as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications (NSAIDS). Additionally, steroid injections can also help. Your doctor may advise you to follow home remedies like applying heat, or frozen gel packs, and exercising regularly to speed up recovery.