Spinal stenosis Treatment in Phoenix
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?
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.
Diagnosing Spinal Stenosis
Before you can receive spinal stenosis treatment in our Phoenix-area practice, you’ll need to be diagnosed. From a physical examination to a discussion of your medical history and your existing symptoms, our doctor for spinal stenosis surgery will evaluate all your options before recommending a course of action.
First up are various imaging tests that can help our doctors determine what’s causing your symptoms and how best to organize a treatment plan. A simple X-ray can help reveal bone spurs that may be narrowing around the spinal canal, while an MRI can produce more helpful, cross-sectional images of your spine.
Not only can an MRI determine the damage that has occurred to your disks and ligaments, as well as any tumors that may be present, but it can also show exactly where pressure is building up in the spinal cord.
For those that are unable to have an MRI, your doctor may recommend a CT scan, which is essentially an advanced X-ray that combines different angles into a 3d image that is detailed enough to draw better insights and inform the course of action. Sometimes a CT scan requires a dye to be injected, which helps reveal bone spurs, tumors and herniated disks.
After a Diagnosis
Depending on your exact symptoms and what is discovered in the diagnosis phase, your doctor may recommend spinal stenosis treatment in Phoenix to help alleviate your symptoms. More serious symptoms and discoveries may warrant surgery, but if you’re experiencing mild or no symptoms, your doctor may recommend monitoring and follow up appointments. In fact, there may be some things that you can do at home to help, or you may need to engage in physical therapy of some type.
For many, however, medication can be the first line of defense. Simple pain relievers and antidepressants can help reduce discomfort and pain, while more powerful anti-seizure drugs and opioids can reduce more severe pain. Steroid injections are also a viable spinal stenosis treatment for Phoenix-based patients that have severe pain at the site of pinching, though these kinds of injections can only be safely done a few times a year due to damage to nearby bones and connective tissue.