What is spinal Stenosis?
Your spine is made up of a series of vertebrae with shock-absorbing discs between them. As a person ages, the spine can eventually develop degenerative changes in the intervertebral discs and the joints that can create a narrowing of the spinal canal. This tightening can create pressure on the spinal cord, which may then lead to issues with movement and coordination in the arms and legs this is known as spinal stenosis.
Spinal Stenosis Causes
There are numerous reasons that one may develop spinal stenosis. Bone spurs may develop around the vertebrae and facet joints. Degenerative changes in the supporting spinal ligaments may cause them to thicken, shrinking the space in the spinal canal. Arthritis can enlarge the joints. Disc protrusions and bulging or herniated discs can also narrow the spinal canal. Spinal stenosis usually continues to progress as the effects of any or all of these conditions keep narrowing the spinal canal putting more pressure on the spinal cord.
Stenosis is more common in the lower back (lumbar spinal stenosis). Cervical spinal stenosis, narrowing of the spinal canal in the neck, is considered a more serious condition and should be treated first.
what are the symptoms of spinal stenosis?
Because the spinal cord is being impinged, the symptoms of stenosis are often nerve related. These are some of the typical symptoms:
- Arm pain
- Intermittent shooting pains into the arms and legs, especially when
- bending forward
- Deterioration of fine motor skills such as those needed to button your shirt
- Inability to walk briskly
- Loss of grip strength
- Heavy feeling in the bags
- Changes in bowel or bladder function
Spinal Stenosis Treatment
When stenosis is mild, physical therapy in combination with medications helps stabilize and improve symptoms. These can include steroid injections to reduce inflammation surrounding the nerves. These treatments can help with the symptoms of spinal stenosis. They do not treat the stenosis itself and do not relieve the pressure on the spinal cord or nerves.
During a laminoplasty, the lamina, a small section of the bone that covers the back of the spinal cord, is cut through completely on one side and partially on the other, enabling the bone to swing open like a door. This creates more space in the spinal canal, immediately relieving pressure on the spinal cord and nerve roots. Once Dr. Albert cuts the lamina, he then examines the spinal canal and removes any bone spurs and other sources of compression. To maintain the space, the lamina is then held open with titanium spacers and wires.
After laminoplasty, particularly to treat spinal stenosis, patients will usually need to wear a soft collar for 2-3 weeks. Recovery times vary depending on the age and medical condition of the patient. For several weeks after surgery, you should avoid activities that require bending or lifting. Patients will then need to undergo rehabilitative therapy to build up strength, the range of motion and flexibility in the area. Patients will generally be out of work for 2-4 after surgery and can resume most normal activities from 2-6 weeks after surgery.