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Spinal Stenosis

    Spinal Stenosis

    What is it?

    Spinal Stenosis is a condition caused by narrowing of the spinal canal which causes pressure on the spinal cord, or narrowing of the holes (called neural foramina) where spinal nerves leave the spinal column.  It becomes more common as we age (generally over 50 years old) due to "wear-and-tear" and is usually seen in the lower back (lumbar), but can also occur in the neck (cervical).  Symptoms include pain, numbness or cramping in the back, buttocks, thighs or calfs (lumbar), or in the neck, shoulders, or arms (cervical).  The condition generally worsens gradually over time and can eventually lead to difficulty or imbalance while walking or difficulty with bowel or bladder control. 

    Treatment Options

    Nonsurgical treatment includes medications, physical therapy, exercises, and lifestyle changes.  Corticosteroid injections (epidural steroids) may relieve pain for a period of time.  More severe cases which do not respond to the above measures may require surgery.  The most common surgical procedure for stenosis is decompressive laminectomy, sometimes accompanied by a fusion.  this takes pressure off of the spinal cord and exiting nerves by increasing the area of the spinal canal and enlarging the neural foramina if indicated.  There is also a newer procedure which is less invasive called X-STOP device which can offer benefits compared to traditional surgery for lumbar spinal stenosis, including less invasive, shorter hospital stay, and less removal of bone or soft tissue to allow for potentially quicker recovery.