How to Tell if You Need Spine Surgery for Spinal Stenosis
One of the most common back problems is lumbar spinal stenosis.
Stenosis of the spine surgery is often performed on individuals aged over 50 years.
The pain can often be debilitating and a patient may have to decide whether to embark with surgery or to manage the pain with non-surgical treatments.
For this reason, we are offering an informative guide on how to tell if you need stenosis of the spine surgery.
What Causes Spinal Stenosis?
Spinal stenosis is often caused by many years of osteoarthritis.
Osteoarthritis is caused by the thickening of the ligaments that connect the bones to the spine.
Another factor of osteoarthritis is the deterioration of the cushioning located between the disks in the vertebrae.
If considerable overgrowth occurs, it can result in the narrowing of the spinal canal, which can cause pinching to the nerves that travel down a person’s legs from the spine.
Unfortunately, this can sometimes cause pain when walking or may even result in an inability to walk.
Spinal stenosis can cause the spine to narrow in one or more of the following parts:
- At the center of the spine
- The space between the bones of the spine
- The location where nerves branch away from the spine to other areas of the body
Who Can Develop Spinal Stenosis?
Stenosis of the spine surgery is often performed on people aged 50 and over.
However, it is not uncommon for people living with arthritis or related conditions to require surgery.
While stenosis of the spine surgery is rarely performed on young people, it can be a viable option for an individual living with a spine injury or a narrow spinal canal.
People who are suffering from scoliosis, which is a twisting of the spine, are also at risk of experiencing spinal stenosis.
Anyone who has suffered an injury, tumor or has too much calcium or fluoride in their body might also be likely to require stenosis of the spine surgery.
What are the Spinal Stenosis Symptoms?
There are a number of symptoms that may help you to identify if you require stenosis of the spine surgery, such as:
- Numbness, cramping, pain or weakness in the back of the legs or arms
- Pain in the back or neck
- Pain moving down the leg
- Foot problems
It is also possible for some people to experience a more serious form of spinal stenosis, which is called cauda equine syndrome.
Unfortunately, anyone living with this syndrome can experience a loss of bladder or bowel control, and they may also have difficulty having sexual intercourse.
How is Spinal Stenosis Diagnosed?
If a doctor suspects you have spinal stenosis, he or she will perform a physical exam.
To make a full assessment, the doctor will also ask questions about your medical history and may even order imaging tests, such as magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), bone scans, computerized typography or an x-ray.
A doctor may also begin with a myelogram test, which is the injection of liquid dye into the spinal column to evaluate the problem further.
What are the Treatment Options?
There are a number of treatment options available to alleviate the pain associated with spinal stenosis.
It may be possible to first employ non-surgical treatments, such as pain relievers or non steroid anti-inflammatory drugs.
However, a patient may have to undergo stenosis of the spine surgery if their symptoms have resulted in nerve damage, or they experience issues with their bladder or bowel functions.
Anyone who is experiencing walking difficulties should seriously consider surgery, as it has the potential to restore a person’s quality of life.
Are There Other Ways to Treat Spinal Stenosis?
There are a number of exercises you can perform to treat spinal stenosis.
Self-care is often a big factor in improving the pain caused by the condition, so you could consider physical or therapeutic exercises to alleviate the symptoms.
For example, you could take up yoga or tai chi, but we strongly encourage you to visit your doctor before embarking on any physical exercise.
Other ways to alleviate the pain and limit physical activity include using assistive devices, such as a cane or back brace.
What are the Surgical Options?
There are three stenosis of the spine surgery options:
- Lumbar laminectomy
- A minimally invasive laminectomy
- Implantable devices
A lumbar laminectomy is the traditional surgical option.
Also known as decompression surgery, the surgeons will create a space by the removal of the lamina, which is part of the vertebra that covers the spinal canal.
The procedure aims to enlarge the spinal canal, as it can alleviate the pressure on the nerves and spinal cord.
It is common for a surgeon to perform a spinal fusion, which connects two or more bones within the back to help stabilize the spine.
The downside of the lumbar laminectomy is it can result in a long recuperation period, as surgeons will have to disrupt more muscles and lamina to reach the lamina.
Minimally Invasive Laminectomy
The minimally invasive laminectomy may, therefore, be an ideal solution for spinal stenosis.
The surgery will involve tiny incisions that allow a small camera, known as a laparoscope, and other surgical tools to be inserted to perform a lamina removal or spinal fusion.
The recuperation time is much faster in comparison to a lumbar laminectomy, and it is possible for patients to find it easier to walk immediately after the procedure.
A patient may also experience a few days or soreness whilst the incisions start to heal.
It is possible for a surgeon to insert a device into the back of a patient’s spine, which is designed to prevent a patient from bending too far backward.
The implantable device could, therefore, reduce numbness or leg pain.
However, some surgeons are not often eager to perform the surgery, as they may consider it to be experimental in its nature.
Conclusion on Stenosis of the Spine Surgery
There are many treatment options available for spinal stenosis.
However, stenosis of the spine surgery should be a consideration if you can no longer enjoy a quality of life with the associated symptoms.
If you are unhappy with your restricted activity level and believe non-surgical treatments are no longer working, it is time to discuss with your doctor about one of the surgical options mentioned earlier.
Spinal stenosis can be debilitating, but the symptoms are treatable. So, don’t suffer in silence; investigate the right treatment for your needs.
Have you experienced surgery for spinal stenosis? Please leave a comment below to share your journey with our readers.