Spinal stenosis is caused by a narrowing of the spine that puts pressure on the spinal cord and nerves within the spine, resulting in pain and discomfort. While younger people born with a narrow spine may suffer from the condition, spinal stenosis primarily affects men and women over fifty. Today, the Santa Monica back surgeons at the Spine Institute Center for Spinal Restoration are going to look at some of the most common causes for spinal stenosis.
As people get older, bones of the spine may become larger, resulting in compression that causes pressure on nerves. The tissues and bands that support the 26 bones of the back may become thick and hard with age. Bone spurs may also form, a condition where bones of the spine bulge out. When this is the case, spinal decompression surgery may be the best option for relieving pain and discomfort.
Two forms of arthritis may affect the spine, resulting in spinal stenosis. Osteoarthritis, the most common form of arthritis, may wear away cartilage (tough tissue) that keeps joints in place, resulting in pain, or causing bone spurs. Rheumatoid arthritis, often occurring at a younger age than osteoarthritis, may cause severe damage to joints.
Additional Causes of Spinal Stenosis
- Inherited conditions
- Tumors (within the spine)
- Paget’s disease
- Back injuries (including sports-related injuries)
- Excessive fluoride in the body
- Calcium deposits (on spinal ligaments)
Symptoms of Spinal Stenosis
In many cases, symptoms of spinal stenosis develop slowly, unless the condition is caused by a back injury. Pain in the neck or back or pain going down the leg that doesn’t go away or returns frequently is usually the first sign of spinal stenosis. Foot problems, such as pain while walking or standing for long periods of time, can also be an indication of the condition.
Diagnosing & Treating Spinal Stenosis
Spinal stenosis is diagnosed with x-rays, an MRI or bone scan to identify where the bone is deformed or breaking down. Treatments often include medications to relieve the swelling and discomfort, limiting certain strenuous activities, physical therapy or a brace that’s worn on the lower back. In severe cases, spinal surgery is often recommended to open the spinal canal and thus reduce pressure on the spine.
If you are interested in learning more about diagnosing and treating spinal stenosis, reach out to Doctor Hyun Bae in Santa Monica, CA. Doctor Bae is a conservative spinal surgeon that is involved in many of the latest advancements and treatments in spine care, from surgery and stem cell regeneration to advanced imaging techniques. During a consultation, he can help provide an accurate diagnosis as well as the best treatment options for your particular case. For more information, call (310) 828-7757 today.