When the spinal canal which is the bony structure that encloses the spinal cord and the nerve roots get narrowed then is when spinal stenosis occurs. The "slow progressive" compression of the neural elements is represented by it. The wear and tear or degeneration of the spine which is age-related accelerates around 30 years of age and is an ongoing process.
Symptoms of Spinal Stenosis
Spinal Stenosis symptoms are produced when the spinal cord and nerve roots get compressed by the narrowing spinal canal.
- Tingling, pain or a feeling of weakness or heaviness in one or both legs that becomes worse when you stand and talk. Sitting or leaning forward as while pushing a shopping cart provides relief in the symptoms. It can be seen in 90% of spinal stenosis cases and is called neurogenic claudication.
- Radiating pain, numbness, and weakness to the buttocks and legs. This shows the symptoms of radiculopathy which is the compression of a lumbar nerve root.
Causes of Spinal Stenosis:
- Degenerative changes that occur with aging called spondylosis or spondylitis is the reason for spinal stenosis in the majority of patients.
- Thickening of ligaments within the spinal canal, bulging of the intervertebral disc, the degeneration, and the formation of synovial cysts (fluid-filled sacs in the joints) are other possible contributors to spinal stenosis.
Tests and Diagnosis
Spinal Canal Stenosis Diagnosis is made by:
- Physical Examination and Complete History
- MRI Scans and X-Rays: Detailed images of soft tissues like the spinal cord and nerve root are provided in an MRI. Thus, they help a lot in determining the location and severity of the stenosis and in identifying spinal cord or nerve root compression. Specific bony abnormalities such as vertebral body fracture, collapse or erosion, bone spurs, disc space narrowing can be easily diagnosed by X-Rays. If there is any abnormal or excessive movement or there is some instability of the spine at the affected levels can be seen by dynamic, or flexion/extension X-rays.
When to Treat Spinal Stenosis?
The symptoms of every patient vary as the rate of narrowing of the effective space varies. Pain can be controlled with the modification of lifestyle and exercises. However, surgical intervention is required in the case of "slow progressive functional paralysis". The activities slow down to an extent where routine activities are painfully restricted but true paralysis is rare. If you are staying in India then you will get the best spine surgeon at Nanavati Max Super Speciality Hospital for the treatment of your spinal stenosis.
How is Spinal Stenosis treated?
The symptoms and severity of the patient's condition determine whether a non-operative or operative treatment should be given. In the case of less severe symptoms, non-operative treatments like pain management techniques such as epidural spinal injections, anti-inflammatory medications, physical therapy are considered. When non-operative treatments stop working or do not provide any relief then surgery should be considered. In the case of persistent neurogenic claudication in patients, a decompressive lumbar laminectomy or decompression with stabilization may be recommended. So you should make sure to consult the best surgeon in Mumbai for getting the right advice for your spine. At Nanavati Max Super Speciality Hospital which is the best quaternary care hospital in Mumbai, you will get spine specialists for providing you expert and professional treatments. Hence, before making any surgery decisions make sure to consult at the right place.
Dr. Mihir Bapat (Director & Sr Consultant - Spine Surgery)
Dr. Mihir Bapat is a Director & Sr Consultant at Nanavati Max Institute of Spine Surgery with an experience spanning over 25 years. He has performed over 8000 successful spine surgeries and had been awarded numerous accolades for his contribution in the field. He specialises in Column traumatology, Percutaneous Vertebroplasty for Compression Fracture and Complex Spinal Deformity Correction.