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Spinal Stenosis

 

The spine which is made up of 26 bones helps you to stand erect and bend over.  When the spine is narrowed at the space at the center of spine, the space between vertebrae, or the canals where the nerves come out from the spine, then this compresses the nerves and spinal cord and cause intense pain.  This abnormal narrowing of the spinal column is known as Spinal Stenosis.  Spinal Stenosis may not just occur in a specific region but in any region of the spine.  This is a medical condition where the spinal canal narrows and compresses the nerves and spinal cord.

The most common forms of Spinal Stenosis are:

•    Cervical Spinal Stenosis:  A bone disease which involves the spinal canal narrowing is known as Cervical Spinal Stenosis.  Here narrowing of the spinal canal is observed at the level of the neck and it may be due to degeneration caused by age or it may be congenital.  Surgery is the most likely treatment.

•    Lumbar Spinal Stenosis:  When the spinal cord and the nerves experiences compression, the spinal canal narrows at the level of the lumber vertebrae then it is a medical condition known as lumbar spinal stenosis.  This can be due to ageing, osteoarthritis, spinal disc herniation or a tumor.  It occurs in the lower back region and can be a congenital condition also.  This can lead to abnormal sensations in the thighs, legs, buttocks or feet as well as low back pain loss of bowel control or bladder.

•    Thoracic Spinal Stenosis:  This type of stenosis occurs in the region of the body formed by the sternum.  Thoracic Spinal Stenosis occurs in the region of the mid spinal cord.  Narrowing of the spinal canal is the main symptom of this disease.  It can be detected by x-ray examination.

What treatments are available?

•    Physical therapy: strengthening the muscles in the back and abdominals can provide enough strength and support to alleviate symptoms of nerve compression
•    Pain Medication: Sometimes anti-inflammatory medication can reduce the amount of inflammation in the nerve and thereby decrease pressure on the compressed nerve.  Pain medication should be used under the direction of a physician. 
•    Corticosteroid injections: into the outermost of the membranes covering the spinal cord and nerve roots to reduce inflammation and treat acute pain that radiates to the hips or down a leg.
•    Surgery:  this should be considered after conservative treatments have been trialled, and when a patient has numbness or weakness that interferes with walking, impaired bowel or bladder function, or other neurological involvement.

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