Spinal stenosis occurs when the spinal column has narrowed, often resulting in the need for spinal cord surgery. Over time, the spinal canal can gradually narrow, compromising the space for the spinal cord and nerves. Depending on the extent of the narrowing, the patient may experience little to no pain, but others face crippling back and leg pain, as well as numbness and tingling, with spinal stenosis.
Spinal cord surgery, or laminectomy, is the most common procedure done for patients with spinal stenosis. It involves removing the bone that is compressing the nerves in the spinal cord, providing more space for the spinal cord and nerves to breathe, essentially. Other types of spinal surgery for spinal stenosis include:
- Foraminotomy – This procedure aims to increase the space around the bones of the spinal column to relieve pressure.
- Spinal fusion – We perform spinal fusion only in extreme cases where multiple areas of the spine are affected.
In other cases, kyphoplasty may be an option for individuals who have suffered a spinal compression fracture, typically as the result of osteoporosis.
What Causes Spinal Stenosis?
Spinal stenosis can affect either the cervical, thoracic, or lumbar spine, all of which we sometimes treat with spinal cord surgery. Typically, arthritis or degenerative disease causes this condition of the spine. Other causes of spinal stenosis include:
- Spine defects that occur at birth
- A spinal cord that is naturally narrow
- Bone tumors
- Paget’s disease of the bone
- Achondroplasia, a type of dwarfism
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Inflammatory spondyloarthritis
If you suffered a spinal cord injury as the result of an accident, contact an accident injury doctor to see how we can help.
What Are the Symptoms of Spinal Stenosis?
Before we take a closer look at surgery in the spinal cord, let’s briefly go over the most common symptoms of spinal stenosis:
- Problems with balance
- Low back pain when standing or walking
- Weakness in the arms or legs
- Numbness in the buttocks or legs
If you notice any of the above symptoms, please contact our orthopedic doctor at OSA to schedule an appointment today. The sooner you can get your condition diagnosed, the faster you will be able to seek treatment, such as spinal cord surgery.
Do I Need Spinal Cord Surgery?
Many people require surgery for spinal stenosis, especially if other treatment options have failed to provide relief. As mentioned earlier, the most common type of spinal cord surgery for spinal stenosis is a decompressive laminectomy, in which the roof of the vertebrae is removed to make more room for the nerves in the spinal column.
Spinal cord surgery may be the right step for you if the following applies:
- You are experiencing significant back and leg pain that is decreasing your quality of life
- You have lost healthy bowel and bladder functionality
- You are having a difficult time standing or walking
- You are experiencing neurological problems, such as weakness and numbness in the extremities
- Physical therapy, acupuncture, medications, and other treatments have been ineffective
There are both risks and benefits associated with spinal surgery, all of which you should weigh against one another before moving forward. To learn more about how we treat spinal cord compression with spinal cord surgery, contact Dr. Atwater at OSA today.