Spinal Stenosis Treatment Options

Spinal stenosis treatment addresses a narrowing of the spine canal, which occurs most often in the lower back and the neck. There are two kinds of spinal stenosis: lumbar, which impacts the lower back and cervical, which impacts the neck. Both types are caused by degeneration in the disks, the ligaments, or the joints between the vertebrae (facet joints). This can squeeze the nerves that branch out from the spinal cord. Symptoms of spinal stenosis include pain, numbness, or weakness in the arms or legs, balance issues, or pain when walking, but some people have no symptoms at all.

People with severe lumbar spinal stenosis often can’t stand longer than a few minutes or walk more than a few hundred feet without feeling severe pain. If untreated, this can lead to significant and even permanent nerve damage.

Treatment Options

There are various spinal stenosis treatments that may alleviate the pain typically beginning with conservative options such as anti-inflammatories pain medication. Physical therapy is another form of non-surgical spinal stenosis treatment that can strengthen abdominal and back muscles to preserve motion in the spine. Cortisone injections can significantly ease inflammation and pain for a period of time but are usually not a long-term solution.

Unfortunately, only about 20 percent of people with spinal stenosis improve substantially without surgery. However, there are multiple surgical techniques that offer very effective spinal stenosis treatment. If you are a candidate for surgery, your provider will likely look at minimally invasive options first to minimize damage to healthy tissue.

  • A laminectomy is the most common surgical spinal stenosis treatment, in which the back portion of a vertebra (called a lamina), is removed easing that pressure. Sometimes, spinal fusion is needed to stabilize or lock two or more bones so they can’t move. This is done with metal hardware or a bone graft from the pelvic bone. In minimally invasive spinal fusion, spacers can be inserted between the spinous processes. This keeps the vertebrae apart and the space open.
  • A laminotomy is a less invasive procedure focused on relieving pressure from one specific location by removing only part of the lamina.
  • A laminoplasty is specific to cervical spinal stenosis, and, once lamina tissue is removed, uses a special piece of metal to hold the remaining lamina open in a way that keeps pressure off of the nerves.

A hospital stay of two to three days is usually required following spinal fusion. Rehabilitation is an integral part of getting the most possible benefit from surgery.  It typically takes about 4 to 6 weeks to return to an office or sedentary job, but it can take 3 months or longer to return to activities that are more physical.

OCC Spine Disorder Surgeons

The spine team at OCC is comprised of experienced doctors, surgeons, physician’s assistance, physical and occupational therapists, who work closely with patients to pursue the right treatment options for each situation. If surgery is recommended, OCC spine surgeons pair their skills with the best technological and surgical advancements to deliver positive outcomes for patients. Post-surgery, patients work closely with their care team to complete physical or occupational therapy that enables the healing and recovery process. At OCC our goal is simple: to be your first and foremost choice for spine care. Our offices are conveniently located across the front range and it’s easy to make an appointment. Find the provider that fits your needs and contact us today.

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