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The spinal canal is like a tunnel along your spine that contains the nerves that travel along the spinal column and carry messages to other parts of the body. When the spinal canal narrows, the condition is called spinal stenosis. This painful condition may occur in each section of the spine, including the neck, middle back, or lower back. The most common areas to develop spinal stenosis are the neck and lower back.
The narrowing of the spinal canal exerts pressure on the nerves, causing pain, weakness, or numbness in the extremities. If stenosis is located in the lumbar region, pressure may be exerted on the sciatic nerve and lead to painful sciatica symptoms. If stenosis occurs in the neck, the arms, legs and even balance may be affected. Dr. Fischer is experienced in recognizing spinal stenosis symptoms and accurately diagnosing the condition so that treatment can begin.
Spinal stenosis most commonly occurs between ages 50 to 60, largely due to changes in the spine due to aging. Another kind of spinal stenosis is called congenital or developmental and affects people in their late teens or young adulthood.
The most common cause of narrowing of the spinal canal is degeneration of the area from aging. Arthritic changes to the joints and discs may impact the spinal column. Scoliosis, which is a curvature of the spine, may be another cause of stenosis. Sometimes trauma to the spine from an accident or injury may lead to spinal stenosis. Less often, infection, tumors or congenital defects cause the condition.
If you seek treatment from a physician like Dr. Fischer during the early stages of your symptoms, your condition may benefit from over-the-counter anti-inflammatories and modification of your daily activities. In more advanced cases, epidural steroid injections may be recommended to offer relief. If these methods are not successful, Dr. Fischer may advise spinal decompression surgery or spinal fusion surgery. Surgery is more invasive so should be only performed on spinal stenosis patients who really need it.