What is Spinal Stenosis?
Spinal Stenosis is a medical condition that is most commonly found in adults aged 50 years or older. In this medical condition, the spaces within the human spine start to narrow putting pressure on the nerves traveling through the spine. Spinal Stenosis occurs mostly in the lower back and the neck region.
As the spine is made of several connected bones and shock-absorbing discs known as the vertebrae, it plays a key part in protecting the spinal cord which connects the central nervous system to the brain of the body.
In most cases, spinal stenosis is a result of arthritis as the open spaces in the vertebrae start to get smaller. Some people with spinal stenosis may not have any symptoms whereas some may experience pain, tingling, numbness or muscle weakness.
There are several non-surgical spinal stenosis treatment options and exercises for those suffering from spinal stenosis to keep the pain in control, however, doctors may recommend spinal stenosis surgery to create additional space for nerves or the spinal cord.
What are the symptoms of Spinal Stenosis?
Symptoms of Spinal Stenosis vary depending on the area of stenosis and the nerves affected. Some of the specific symptoms are:
- Sciatica: In this, the pain radiates down to the legs starting as pain in the lower back region of the body.
- Foot Drop: In this, pain in the legs cause one to slap their foot onto the ground.
- Loss of Bladder and Bowel Control: This weakens the nerves of the bladder or bowel, causing urinary urgency and incontinence.
- Feeling of numbness in legs, arms or foot.
- Difficulty in balancing and walking.
What are the types of Spinal Stenosis?
The classification of Spinal Stenosis is based on the area of the spine affected. The two primary types of spinal stenosis are:
- Cervical Stenosis: In this condition, the neck’s protective spinal; canal narrows due to trauma or degenerative changes. If the space canals narrow down too much, it can lead to a medical condition called myelopathy.
- Lumbar Stenosis: This condition the narrowing occurs in the spinal region of the lower back. It is the most common type of spinal stenosis which mostly affects people who are 60 years or older.
What are the spinal stenosis treatment options?
The non-surgical Spinal Stenosis Treatment options include:
- Pain Relievers: Common pain medications like aspirin, ibuprofen, and naproxen can provide short term relief. Some of these medicines are also available in low doses with any prescription. These are recommended for short term use only.
- Antidepressants: Light doses of tricyclic antidepressants with the supervision of the doctor can help in easing chronic pain.
- Opioids: Drugs that contain codeine-related drugs can be used for short term relief.
- Anti-seizure Drugs: Some anti-seizure medicines such as Neurontin can be used to ease pain caused by damaged nerves.
Most people with spinal stenosis become less active causing muscle weakness which leads to more pain. Physical therapy can help in building strength and endurance and improving flexibility and endurance.
Steroid Injections: Some injections such as prednisone can help the inflammation go down in the neck and back region. However, steroid injections don’t work for everyone and repeated use can weaken connective tissues and bones nearby.
Decompression: In this procedure, a needle-like instrument is used to remove a thickened ligament in the back to increase canal space and remove nerve root impingement. This procedure is only for those with lumbar stenosis and thickened ligament patients.
Assistive Device: Braces, corset or a walker can be used as an assistive tool to help one move about.
Spinal Stenosis Surgery: Spinal Stenosis Surgery may be considered if other Spinal Stenosis treatments fail to show effectiveness. Doctors may also recommend surgery to those who struggle to walk or have issues with their bladder & bowel. Spinal Stenosis Surgery aims to ease pain by relieving pressure on the spinal cord or nerve roots to create more space within the spinal canal.
Even though spinal stenosis surgery carries its risks, research shows that spinal stenosis surgery results in fewer complications when done by experienced surgeons. Some examples of surgical procedures include:
- Laminectomy: In this surgical procedure, the lamina (back part) of the affected vertebrae is removed.
- Laminotomy: In this procedure, only a portion of the lamina is removed by carving a hole to relieve the pressure in a particular spot.
- Laminoplasty: This procedure is formed on the cervical spine by creating a hinge on the lamina to open up space within the spinal canal.
- Minimally Invasive Surgery: This approach uses a minimally invasive method to remove the lamina by reducing the damage to nearby healthy tissues.
Many patients also try nontraditional therapy such as chiropractic and acupuncture.
What is the Spinal Stenosis Surgery Cost?
The Spinal Stenosis Surgery Cost in India depends on various factors. The basic cost of surgery starts from $5,500.