Spinal Stenosis Pain Management in Knoxville, TNAccording to the American Medical Association, spinal stenosis is a disorder that affects up to 11% of the elderly in the US. It is the most common reason for spine surgery in patients over 65 years old. In this article, we will look at the causes, symptoms, and treatment options for spinal stenosis in Knoxville.
What is spinal stenosis?Our spine is made up of small bones called vertebrae that are stacked on top of each other and are cushioned by the soft cartilage discs. Inside this bony canal lies the spinal cord with the nerves coming out from the openings in the vertebrae. Sometimes, the space in the spinal canal becomes narrower, compressing the spinal cord or the nerves. It can cause back pain and dysfunction in the parts of the body that the pinched nerve is connected to, most commonly the legs and arms. Which body part is affected depends on the location of the narrowing.
What causes spinal stenosis?The narrowing in the spine can occur due to various reasons:
- The most common cause is osteoarthritis – a degenerative condition in which the tissues in the joints deteriorate over time. When the cartilage between the vertebrae breaks down, the body responds by developing extra bone growth around it in an attempt to stabilize it. That results in a narrowing of the open spaces in the joints. Other types of arthritis can occasionally lead to spinal stenosis as well.
- As we age, the cushioned disks between the vertebrae begin to dry out and flatten. This causes the narrowing of space between the vertebrae. The discs become more prone to bulging, which can also push into the spinal canal, narrowing it.
- Spondylolisthesis is a condition in which a vertebra slips over the one below it. This causes misalignment of the spinal column and can put pressure on the nerves or the spinal cord.
- Several conditions present at birth can be behind spinal stenosis, such as having an unusually narrow spinal canal or an abnormal curvature of the spine (scoliosis).
- Fracture or injury to the spine can cause fragments of the bone to enter the spinal canal, narrowing the space inside it.
- Rarely, a narrowing may be caused by a tumor.
How common is spinal stenosis?Spinal stenosis most commonly occurs in the lower back, less frequently in the neck, and rarely in the upper back. According to a 2009 study published in the Spine journal, the risk of developing this disorder significantly rises with age: from 4% in people under 40 years old to almost 20% for people over 60. In the younger population, spinal stenosis is usually caused by a malformation in the spine at birth, while for the older population the disease is typically a result of degenerative changes during aging.
Main symptomsSpinal stenosis causes pain, tingling, numbness, and weakness not only in the area of the compression but also in the parts of the body that are controlled by the affected nerve. For lumbar (lower back) spinal stenosis the symptoms extend to the buttocks, legs, and feet, and for cervical (neck) spinal stenosis to the arms and hands. Thoracic (upper back) stenosis is less common but can cause upper back pain radiating to the chest or abdomen. The pain is usually worse when standing straight or walking. Leaning forward increases the space available for the nerves, easing the pain. Some patients may experience back spasms. Severe cases can include a loss of bladder, bowel, or sexual function. The symptoms of spinal stenosis develop over a course of a few years, with pain coming and going. If left untreated, long-term compression of the nerve can lead to a loss of function, or, in serious cases, paralysis.
DiagnosisThe diagnosis is based on the patient’s medical history, symptom description, and a physical exam. During the examination, the doctor will check the range of motion, reflexes, and muscle strength. He or she will perform some tests that involve moving or pressing on the body in a specific way to see whether the symptoms can be reproduced. To confirm the diagnosis, Knoxville spinal stenosis specialists use imaging tests, usually an MRI scan, to show a narrowing in the spine that corresponds with the patient’s symptoms. It’s important to keep in mind that many people might have signs of spinal stenosis on imaging tests without experiencing any symptoms
How to treat spinal stenosis?Treatment options for spinal stenosis depend on the severity of the symptoms and the progression of the disease.
- In the early stages, over-the-counter painkiller medications, such as Ibuprofen or Aspirin, in combination with physical therapy, for example, stretching and strengthening exercises, can provide considerable relief.
- If the symptoms keep progressing, steroid injections can reduce inflammation and provide longer-term pain relief. The procedure involves injecting an anti-inflammatory corticosteroid and a local anesthetic directly into the affected area of the spine.
- Another method of pain relief for spinal stenosis is inversion therapy. The patient is suspended upside down on a special device called the inversion table to help stretch out the spine and ease the pressure on the nerves and tissues.
- If the above treatments are not having the desired effect, surgery may be considered. The surgical procedures for spinal stenosis include removing a part of the vertebra to make room for the nerve or widening the opening that the nerve is traveling through. Occasionally, surgery might involve fusing the vertebrae to increase the stability of the spine.
ConclusionSpinal stenosis is a debilitating disease that causes pain and neurological symptoms in the back and other body parts, such as arms, legs, or chest. Although it can occur at any age, it most often affects adults over 50 years old as a result of the aging process. Living with spinal stenosis can be challenging so if you think you may be suffering from this condition, it’s important to contact a doctor who can confirm the diagnosis and offer pain relief options to help you return to your normal lifestyle.
Spinal stenosis treatment in Knoxville, TNIf you are serious about preventing, treating and managing your spinal stenosis pain, Knoxville pain management clinic will give you the peace of mind your pain is going to be controlled. You deserve to live pain-free and our team of qualified pain specialists lead by the reputable Dr. Igor Smelyansky will make sure you come out smiling. Time for you to pick up the phone and make the call. Call 865-337-5137 today for your immediate consultation. Pain-free living is the only way! Click on the following links if you want to find out more about Dr. Igor Smelyansky and Omega Pain Management Clinic.
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Deer T, Sayed D, Michels J, Josephson Y, Li S, Calodney AK. A Review of Lumbar Spinal Stenosis with Intermittent Neurogenic Claudication: Disease and Diagnosis. Pain Med. 2019 Dec 1;20(Suppl 2):S32-S44. doi: 10.1093/pm/pnz161. PMID: 31808530; PMCID: PMC7101166.