Definition of Spinal Stenosis
Spinal stenosis is a disease of the spinal cord that is closely associated with arthritis. Stenosis is derived from the ancient Greek meaning ‘to constrict’ or ‘to narrow’. Spinal stenosis is then defined as the narrowing of the spinal canal. The spinal canal allows for passage of the spinal cord which provides nourishment to the lower back and lower limbs. Narrowing of the spinal space causes irritation and sometimes destruction of the spinal nerves. This, then results in a wide range of symptoms, arthralgia (joint pain) and arthritis (joint inflammation) being one of the major symptoms.
Causes of Spinal Stenosis
Spinal stenosis is one of the most common forms of arthritis. The causes include:
- Age > 50 years – this accounts for 50% of cases
- Thickening of the spinal ligaments
- Overgrowth of the vertebral bones
- Spinal tumors
- Spinal injury
- Congenital spinal stenosis
- Comorbid arthritis e.g. Paget’s disease, Ankylosing spondylitis, osteoarthritis etc.
- Elevated circulating calcium
- Herniation of the vertebral disc
Symptoms of Spinal Stenosis
The most prevalent site of spinal stenosis is the lumbar section. It accounts for more than 65% of all cases of spinal stenosis. Other sites that are less common include: the cervical section and the thoracic section.
A person may complain about:
- Pain in the lower back. Occasional pain in the middle and upper back.
- Pain that is intense, cramping and excruciating
- Severe disabling pain interrupting daily activities e.g. bending, climbing a few stair cases
- Pain that is descending in nature; starting from the lower back, radiating to the buttocks and legs
- Joint pain especially spinal and sacroiliac with or without joint inflammation
- Numbness and weakness in the legs
- Extreme feet numbness causing foot drop syndrome
Treatment of Spinal Stenosis
The therapeutic approach of spinal stenosis is determined by the etiological factors. The primary goal of managing spinal stenosis is to relieve the pain. Not many doctors are conversant with the new methods of pain management in spinal stenosis. Which is why we encourage you to seek only the best in the field of orthopedics, Dr. Burke. He is an orthopedic surgeon, who has with refined clinical skills and is excellent in performing corrective orthopedic procedures. His assessment is thorough and his treatment plans for spinal stenosis include:
- Pharmacological therapy e.g. NSAIDs, local steroid injections
- Exercises from certified instructor e.g. Yoga
- Use of assistive devices such as corset, braces etc.
- Acupuncture therapy
- Limb traction
- Anesthesia e.g. regional nerve block
- Corrective orthopedic surgery e.g. spinal fusion, laminectomy etc.