The spinal cord and spinal nerves are surrounded by protective vertebrae and ligaments that hold those vertebrae together. In a healthy spine, these vertebrae and ligaments offer plenty of room for the spinal cord and nerves. Spinal stenosis is an abnormal narrowing of the spinal canal that applies pressure to the spinal cord and nerve roots.
In most cases, these symptoms occur gradually, increasing over time until they become debilitating. Advanced stages of spinal stenosis can result in neurological deficits including, but not limited to: pain, numbness, tingling, loss of motor control and, in some cases of lumbar stenosis, incontinence.
Spinal Stenosis is seen most often in patients over 50 years of age. Some people under 50 may develop Spinal Stenosis, but this is generally due to a genetic issue that influences bone and muscle development.
The cause of most Spinal Stenosis is Osteoarthritis. Other common causes include:
To diagnose Spinal Stenosis, Dr. Skaliy conducts a physical evaluation of the spine, as well as an MRI scan. Medical imaging is important, because many symptoms of Spinal Stenosis resemble other age-related medical problems.
Traditional Spinal Stenosis treatments can be surgical or non-surgical. Non-surgical treatments include anti-inflammatory drugs, Epidural Steroid Injections, physical therapy, exercise and weight loss.
The effectiveness of non-surgical treatments is unclear. While these treatments may offer temporary pain relief, they cannot fix the underlying cause of the pain.
For advanced cases of Spinal Stenosis, orthopedists often suggest Spinal Fusion surgery. Spinal Fusion is a highly-invasive operation that involves removing the roof of bone overlying the spinal canal and the insertion of bars and screws into the spine to stabilize the affected area. In addition to the risks common to any surgery, drawbacks to Spinal Fusion surgery include:
And, after enduring significant pain and facing those risks, patients who elect Spinal Fusion surgery may still suffer from intense, chronic pain.
Surgical relief of Spinal Stenosis need not be so risky and invasive. Modern medical advancements offer an FDA-approved “Band-Aid” surgery to treat Spinal Stenosis. This procedure, called Superion, was developed by Vertiflex® specifically to offer a better surgical option for treating Spinal Stenosis.