Spinal stenosis is a medical condition in which one or more of the nerves in the spinal column become pinched or compressed. This can occur due to injury or disease, but it is also common as a natural part of the aging process. Spinal stenosis treatment options will depend on the cause of the injury as well as the particular nerve and portion of the spine that is affected. Typical spinal stenosis treatment options include medication, exercise, and sometimes surgery.
Cervical spinal stenosis involves nerves in the neck region of the body. Common symptoms of this type of spinal stenosis are changes in the way the patient walks, pain and numbness in the arms or legs, and muscle weakness involving the extremities. Changes in bowel and bladder control sometimes occur with cervical spinal stenosis as well.
Spinal stenosis treatment involving cervical nerve compression sometimes starts with immobilizing the neck. A neck brace or collar may be used for this purpose in order to keep the neck still, thus calming some of the symptoms. If this method does not provide sufficient relief, steroid injections can often reduce swelling and relieve some of the painful symptoms associated with this condition.
Sometimes, the nerves in the lumbar, or lower, region of the spine, are affected. These symptoms can include lower back pain or numbness and tingling in the feet and legs. Occasionally, the patient loses all sensation in the lower extremities. This can make walking difficult for the patient or even impossible in some cases.
Spinal stenosis treatment for the lumbar nerves typically begins with medications aimed at reducing inflammation. Pain medications along with the use of cortisone are often prescribed to help alleviate symptoms. The cortisone can be given by mouth or as an injection given directly into the spine. Physical therapy can sometimes prove to be beneficial, especially if the patient is having trouble walking.
Surgery is rarely needed for this condition, but if other spinal stenosis treatment options have not been successful, the doctor may recommend surgical intervention. This treatment option is most commonly used in cases where bowel or bladder control have been compromised. Surgery involves removing any tissue that may be pressing on the nerve in order to give more room to the spinal cord. In some instances, the surgeon will need to repair the bones of the spine, called vertebrae, if they have moved out of place and are causing pressure on the nerves.