Spinal stenosis is an abnormal narrowing of the spine. It has the potential to cause pain and other symptoms if one or more nerves are compressed. There are many different forms of spinal stenosis. One of the more common ones is lateral recess stenosis. Typically, this type of spinal narrowing affects a single nerve root in the lumbar (lower back) or cervical spine (neck) area. Here’s what you need to know about lateral recess stenosis and how it’s often treated.
Lateral recesses are located between the center portion of the spinal canal and small openings between spinal bones (foramen). The lateral recess itself is the area where the spinal canal narrows just before it reaches these openings. If this happens, nerves that pass through the foraminal openings may be irritated enough to cause pain and additional symptoms, which could include:
Lateral recess stenosis is sometimes caused by spinal canal misalignment or ligament damage. Disc wear and tear (degeneration), intervertebral desiccation (disc dehydration), and spinal discs that are herniated or bulging are possible issues that could lead to this type of abnormal narrowing. Damage caused by arthritis is another possible contributing factor.
The good news is many people with lateral recess stenosis respond well to conservative (nonsurgical) treatments. There are three main goals with any type of treatment for abnormal spinal narrowing: free the compressed nerve, ease discomfort, and improve functioning. Nonsurgical ways to achieve this goal often involve:
Should nonsurgical efforts fail to provide relief, surgery may be discussed. Keep in mind that many procedures performed today can be done with minimally invasive techniques that often minimize surgical issues and shorten recovery times.
Surgery for lateral recess stenosis usually involves a decompression operation such as a lumbar foraminotomy. Los Angeles spine surgeons perform this procedure to allow for more nerve space by widening the foraminal opening. Similar decompression procedures may be done to free the affected nerve in other ways. Other approaches to surgery may be recommended if lateral recess stenosis is related to a more extensive spinal misalignment. Issues of this nature could include an abnormal spinal curvature (scoliosis) or excessive outward spinal curvature (kyphosis).
As far as prevention goes, your risk of developing lateral recess stenosis may be lowered if you watch your posture, maintain a healthy weight, and avoid awkward positions when standing or sitting. Drinking plenty of water and learning to lift heavy items correctly are some additional steps you can take. Your doctor or Los Angeles spine surgeon can offer more specific advice based on what’s going on with your spine.
When properly diagnosed, patients with lateral recess stenosis can often receive relief with conservative methods of treatment. If you suspect you may have this condition, see a spine specialist as soon as possible. The expert physicians at The Spine Institute lead the industry in every aspect of spine health. Give one of our friendly team members a call today at 310-828-7757 to schedule an appointment.