Spinal stenosis is a common condition affecting millions of patients over the age of 50. This condition is defined as a narrowing of the spine due to a thickening of the bones and ligaments in the spine that wind up compressing the nerve roots that pass through the spinal canal. With age, the spine and corresponding ligaments go through a thickening process to protect the foundation of the entire body, but in doing so they compromise the nerves that run through the spinal canal.
Acquiring spinal stenosis is not a matter of if, but when, as it is a natural process every body experiences later in life. Younger people who were born with a narrow spinal canal can also develop it. Many who have spinal stenosis can live with stenosis without experiencing any symptoms, but for those who do, the narrowing of the spinal canal wreaks havoc on everyday life.
Spinal stenosis puts added pressure on the spinal cord and the nerves that travel through it to reach a person’s arms and legs. Symptoms commonly include pain, numbness, tingling sensations, and weakness. A person who has spinal stenosis may not only experience pain in the lumbar region of the spine and in his legs, he may also be prone to more frequent falling and clumsiness, difficulty walking, and can even experience hot and cold sensations in the legs. Symptoms usually arise when a person is in an upright position, and patients are usually comfortable sitting down.
There are a few problems with avoiding activity to avoid feeling the pain that spinal stenosis brings about. For one, spinal stenosis limits mobility, meaning the patient’s activity level plummets. This can have drastic consequences for someone who suffers from spinal stenosis, the first being that mobility is restricted. To avoid feeling pain, many who have spinal stenosis simply quit doing their everyday activities and exercising, which leads to drastic consequences. By not getting enough exercise, a person’s heart weakens, which could result in elevated levels of damaging cholesterol and a higher risk of developing heart disease, in addition to weight gain. A person’s brain also fails to be properly stimulated, leading to mental deterioration that can result in dementia.
It is possible to resume a regular life free of spinal stenosis with effective lumbar surgery. A properly performed lumbar laminectomy (aka open decompression) reduces the constriction of the nerves that pass through the spinal canal by removing small pieces of the bones that cover the nerve root. This gives the nerves more room to function. Although laminectomy is not minimally invasive, it is extremely effective in eradicating that pressure, which in turn can completely eliminate a person’s low back pain.
If you suffer from chronic low back pain that does not heal by just taking pain medication or participating in physical therapy, the pain management experts at Garden State Pain Control may be able to help. We evaluate your specific condition and provide a treatment plan to get you on a path to wellness. Contact us today.