Narrowing of the spinal canal, known as spinal stenosis, is a condition that often develops as a consequence of aging, and it can be both painful and disabling. Harvinder S. Bedi, MD, of Camelback Spine Care in Sun City, Arizona, and Phoenix, Arizona is an outstanding spine surgeon with extensive experience helping patients who have spinal stenosis. If you have back pain or you’re finding your movements are becoming restricted, call Camelback Spine Care today to schedule a consultation, or book an appointment online.
Spinal stenosis is a narrowing of the spinal canal typically caused by degenerative conditions that develop with age.
As you get older, the effects of wear and tear on your spine cause the discs that cushion your vertebrae to perform less efficiently, causing an increase in pressure. This, in turn, puts pressure on the facet joints in your spine, and the gap that your nerves occupy reduces in size.
If the facet joints are affected by osteoarthritis, the cartilage covering the ends of the bones starts to break down, causing bones to start rubbing against other bones, and leading to additional pressure and pain.
You may also develop bone spurs, which are your body’s response to the problem. The spurs are intended to support the vertebrae, but unfortunately, they add to the narrowing effect, especially as the ligaments increase in size alongside them.
Symptoms of spinal stenosis are different areas of pain in the lower back, hips, buttocks, and one or both legs due to neurogenic claudication, which is pressure on the nerves in the lower part of the spinal cord called the cauda equina.
If you have spinal stenosis, you may also experience a sensation of heaviness in the legs or weakness, tingling, or cramping. The symptoms are usually worse when you’re walking, but improve if you sit down. Leaning forward eases the pressure on the nerves, and further relieves symptoms.
There are several treatments that can help reduce the symptoms of spinal stenosis, such as:
If these therapies aren’t helping to relieve your symptoms, surgery may be required.
Decompression, or laminectomy, is the primary approach to spinal stenosis surgery. Laminectomy involves the removal of any bone, bone spurs, and ligaments that are putting pressure on the nerves in the spinal canal.
Dr. Bedi can carry out laminectomy using minimally invasive laparoscopic surgical techniques for most patients. He can also combine laminectomy with spinal fusion or stabilization surgery if arthritic degeneration is causing spinal instability.
Alternatively, Dr. Bedi may recommend a different procedure using interspinous process devices. This procedure is also minimally invasive and involves fitting specially made spacers between the spinous processes at the back of the spine to keep the vertebrae apart and ensure there’s enough room for the nerves.
If you have back pain or are experiencing any symptoms of spinal stenosis, call Camelback Spine Care today, or book an appointment online.