Why You Shouldn't Procrastinate in Getting Treatment for Spinal Stenosis

Spinal Stenosis, Seattle Neuroscience Institute,  David Newell, MD

Your spine is a complex and important structure. As well as supporting your upper body and allowing movement such as twisting and bending, it also serves as the armor protecting your spinal cord, that all-important communication pathway between brain and body. The spaces in your vertebrae permit the passage of the spinal cord with the spinal column as well as room for nerves to branch off into your body.

When these spaces are smaller than they should be, you have a condition called spinal stenosis. Perhaps the most common cause of spinal stenosis is osteoarthritis that affects the bones and joints of your spine.

On its own, spinal stenosis may not cause any symptoms. When symptoms begin, it’s because nerves have grown irritated or compressed.

Symptoms of spinal stenosis

The type of symptoms you have may indicate where the stenosis has become a problem. When the issue is with the cervical vertebrae in your neck, you may experience:

Stenosis issues in the lumbar region of your lower back could produce sensations such as:

The progression of spinal stenosis

If osteoarthritis is causing your stenosis, then the overgrowth of bone resulting from the condition is usually progressive. Once symptoms begin, they usually get worse without treatment. The same is true when ligaments of the spine stiffen and thicken with time.

Herniated discs can also bulge into nerve passageways, but in many cases, these are self-repairing. That’s not always true, however, and further treatment may be needed for some stenosis patients.

The importance of spinal stenosis treatment

Though it’s rare, serious complications may arise from a spinal stenosis condition. Compressed nerves can be permanently damaged over time, so the symptoms caused by stenosis can become permanent, even if you later have surgery to enlarge nerve passages.

Drug therapies have limited effectiveness, since any of these simply mask the pain symptoms caused by stenosis without addressing underlying causes. Physical therapy counters the tendency to reduce activity as a result of stenosis pain, resulting in muscular weakness that aggravates the condition.

Surgical procedures include the minimally invasive percutaneous image-guided lumbar decompression, which can be performed without general anesthesia, benefiting some high-risk patients who aren’t candidates for general surgery.

Surgery on the causes of spinal stenosis are generally considered a last resort, when progression of the condition advances to the point where permanent nerve damage may otherwise occur. There are several procedures using both open surgery and minimally invasive techniques.  

If your spinal stenosis requires surgery, your best chance of success comes from surgery performed by a skilled and experienced neurosurgeon, such as Dr. Newell of the Seattle Neuroscience Institute. Dr. Newell is a specialist in the techniques needed to correct your stenosis issue. Call or click today to arrange a personal consultation.

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