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Aging and general wear and tear on your body can be hard on your spine. One condition that may occur is called spinal stenosis, which is a narrowing of the spinal canal. This most often happens in the lower back (lumbar region) or the neck (cervical region). When the spinal canal narrows, it puts pressure on the spinal cord and leads to inflammation and pain. The good news for patients is that this common condition is treatable with a variety of options.
What causes spinal stenosis?
This condition is most often related to the aging process, as the spine usually degenerates with age. That’s why the majority of patients diagnosed with spinal stenosis are over age 50. However, younger patients may have a congenital defect or be genetically predisposed to the condition. A back injury may also trigger spinal stenosis. In addition to these causes, the most common reasons people get spinal stenosis are:
What are the symptoms?
Spinal stenosis may occur without symptoms at first and then slowly develop them over time. Pain in the back or neck is common, as well as numbness or weakness that can radiate into the extremities. In severe cases, loss of bladder or bowel control is possible. Lumbar spinal stenosis often mimics sciatica, which causes tingling and pain in the lower back and down the legs. Cervical spinal stenosis is noted for pain and numbness that radiates from the neck down to the shoulders and arms. Since spinal stenosis symptoms are similar to those for a variety of spinal ailments, it is important to see a spine specialist for an accurate diagnosis. Dr. Fischer at NYU Langone Medical Center in New York City is qualified and experienced in diagnosing and treating spinal stenosis.
Can it be treated without surgery?
There are conservative treatments for spinal stenosis that physicians like Dr. Fischer will usually recommend before jumping into surgery. Treatment methods can be combined for optimum results. Some options include:
Is surgery ever required?
If conservative treatment methods aren’t successful and the patient is having trouble performing normal activities comfortably, surgery may be advised. Laminectomies and laminoplasties are typical procedures, with the goal of removing parts of the damaged vertebrae and creating more space inside the spinal canal. These surgeries correct the narrowing of the spinal canal space, remove pressure from nerves, and ease related pain and inflammation. Physicians like Dr. Fischer strive to perform spinal stenosis surgery using a minimally invasive approach, which provides faster recovery and less pain. Whether it’s surgery or a more conservative treatment that you need, Dr. Fischer will find the appropriate way to help you return to your normal life.
Dr. Fischer is a spine surgeon in New York City that help patients with spinal stenosis. Contact us today to schedule your appointment.