A very common spinal disorder that affects about half a million Americans is called spinal stenosis. It mostly affects people older than 50 years of age. It is a disorder that can be a major hindrance to ordinary, every day tasks such as walking. There are several treatment options available, although for severe cases of spinal stenosis, surgery may be the best and simple way to cure your spinal stenosis.
Spinal stenosis is the condition where the spinal canal narrows, which causes compression on the nerves. It can happen anywhere along the spine, though the lumbar vertebrae (lower back) are the most susceptible. Spinal stenosis can cause pain and numbness throughout the body, though it usually occurs in the legs. In more serious cases, loss of balance and a tendency to fall may develop, and its possible to lose bladder control.
The most common cause of the narrowing of the spinal canal is osteoarthritis from old age. The discs in between the vertebrae in the spine wear down, decreasing the amount of space separating the vertebrae. This will result in a reduction of the foramen, which is the opening on the sides of the vertebrae that allow the nerves to extend from the spinal cord to other areas of the body. Other causes of spinal stenosis include herniated/bulging discs and degenerated discs.
There are several treatment options available. Physical therapy and/or pain medications are usually the first types of treatment suggested. They will help alleviate pain, while performing exercises to strengthen and stabilize the spine. If this is not enough, steroid injections may be used, though they are not long term solutions and may have an adverse effect. The final option is spine surgery.
The types of decompressive surgeries a patient usually undergoes is a foraminotomy, laminotomy or laminectomy. A foraminotomy is the opening of the foramen by cutting away some of the infringing bone matter that is pinching the nerves. A laminotomy is the partial removal of the lamina - the bony wall on the posterior side of each vertebrae that protects the spinal cord. A laminectomy is complete removal of the lamina to reduce pressure in the spine.
Spinal stenosis laser surgery is a relatively simple procedure. It is minimally invasive and requires only a few hours for recovery before the hospital can release you. It has a great success rate, with most patients feeling less pain and improved balance immediately after the surgery. For anyone suffering from spinal stenosis, surgery is a reliable option one should consider.