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Spinal stenosis – Cervical, thoracic, lumbar

Spinal stenosis is the narrowing of the spinal canal. When this narrowing puts pressure on the nerves traveling through the canal, symptoms can occur. Some people with spinal stenosis do not have any symptoms at all. For many people, symptoms come on gradually and worsen over time.


Symptoms of Spinal Stenosis

The most common form of stenosis is lumbar spinal stenosis. When nerves in the lower part of the spine are affected by spinal stenosis it can cause:

● Back pain
● Pain or cramps in one or both legs, which is exacerbated by walking or standing for long periods and which is relieved when sitting or leaning forward
● Weakness in the foot or leg
● Numbness or tingling in the foot or leg

Cervical spinal stenosis occurs when the nerves in the neck are affected. Symptoms include:

  • Neck pain
  • Weakness in the foot, leg, hand or arm
  • Numbness or tingling in the hand or arm
  • Problems with balance or walking
  • In severe cases, problems with bowel or bladder function

Thoracic spinal stenosis is less common. Symptoms of narrowing of the spinal canal in the upper back include:

  • Heaviness or weakness in one or both legs
  • Problems with balance or walking
  • Numbness or pain in one or both legs
  • A feeling of constriction in the chest or abdomen
  • In severe cases, problems with bladder, bowel or sexual function

It is possible to have spinal stenosis in multiple areas of the spine.


What causes spinal stenosis?

Narrowing of the spinal canal can occur from congenital deformities, tumors, degeneration of the spine or as the result of trauma such as a car accident.

Most cases of spinal stenosis occur as a result of age-related changes such as osteoarthritis. Wear and tear on the spine can create overgrowths of bone called bone spurs (osteophytes) or lead to herniated discs, where the soft nucleus of a disc breaks through a crack in the outer layer. Bone spurs or herniated discs can push into the spinal canal and affect the nerves inside or the spinal cord itself.


Treatment for spinal stenosis

Treatment for spinal stenosis usually begins with nonsurgical measures such as medications, physical therapy and other measures of conservative care. If symptoms persist, epidural injections can be used to reduce pain and inflammation of spinal nerves.

Surgery is a last resort for the treatment of spinal stenosis, and is only used when more conservative measures don’t work or when symptoms are severe; for example when they cause bladder and bowel dysfunction. Dr. Baig will use one of a variety of surgical techniques to decompress (take pressure off) the affected spinal nerves. If there is a concern about spinal stability, decompression surgery may be combined with spinal fusion surgery for the best outcome.