Spinal stenosis is a significant cause of disability in older adults. The condition creates a narrowing of the spinal canal, which then restricts the spinal cord and nearby nerves resulting in painful symptoms.
By the time a person reaches the age of 60, there is nearly a 20% risk of acquiring lumbar spinal stenosis — with the incidence increasing with age. Spinal stenosis is also a leading cause of spinal surgery in patients over the age of 65.
Chronic back pain can indicate a wide variety of spinal conditions, which is why you need an accurate diagnosis. The surgeons at Desert Institute for Spine Care are leaders in minimally invasive spine care and can help relieve the pain caused by spinal stenosis.
The narrowing caused by spinal stenosis can occur at any level of the spine but is most common in the lower back’s lumbar region or the neck’s cervical region due to their mobility.
Turning and bending can lead to eventual degeneration caused by wear and tear over the years. As the spinal canal in these regions narrows, the spinal cord and exiting nerves can be compressed, especially with the constant moving and bending of the spine’s vertebrae.
The thoracic spine, located in the middle back, provides stability and support, making it less prone to spinal stenosis.
Whether spinal stenosis is located in your lower back or neck, it produces similar symptoms — just in different parts of the body. Two types of spinal stenosis can affect the spinal cord, central canal stenosis (middle of back or neck) and foraminal stenosis or lateral stenosis (to one side of your back or neck).
Central stenosis can produce symptoms affecting your back, neck and one or both legs or arms. Foraminal stenosis typically affects the exiting spinal nerve to one side with symptoms in the back and leg or neck and arm. Lumbar spinal stenosis leads to symptoms in the legs and feet, while cervical spinal stenosis causes similar symptoms in the arms and hands.
While spinal stenosis can be asymptomatic, pain is usually the first indicator that there is additional pressure being put on the spine.
Other symptoms could include:
There are a variety of minimally invasive treatment options for spinal stenosis. At DISC, we first emphasize nonoperative procedures to address pain and strengthen and support spinal structures. These may include:
If pain persists or if your condition leads to nerve compression, your doctor may recommend surgical treatment for spinal stenosis. We offer a range of options, and our surgeons specialize in minimally invasive endoscopic surgery.