Approximately 1.4% of the global population comprising of 102 million candidates was diagnosed with spinal stenosis, making it one of the most common spinal disorders. Spinal stenosis may affect both young as well as adult individuals, however, it is commonly reported among senior citizens due to bone degeneration. The condition is characterized by narrowing of the spinal space which creates exaggerated pressure on the spinal nerves, thereby causing information and severe pain in the back, upper or lower limbs.
Though there are several treatments available for obtaining relief from consistent pain, spinal stenosis surgery is known to be the most beneficial. The surgical procedures, though effective, are quite expensive ranging from $100,000 to $115,000 and may even exceed depending on the requirements and complications (if any).
1. What is Spinal Stenosis?
Spinal stenosis is recognized as the thinning of space between two vertebrae. The narrowing of the intervertebral space mostly results due to degenerative disorders which cause the bone density to reduce and friction to increase manifolds. Where the narrowing compresses the nerve vessels, the increase in friction causes impairment in physical movement. Both the conditions are directly responsible for heightened sensitivity and tremendous pain. In most cases, disc bulging may also occur. The pinching sensation is very common and enough to agitate the daily activities. The condition, though common among individuals above 50-60 years age, symptoms may be seen among adults who are continuously working in an improper sitting position. This can also be observed in candidates who have experienced accidental damage and trauma on the spine.
Spinal stenosis affects cervical as well as lumbar regions and causes extreme back pain. In general, the condition results from osteoarthritis, however, scientific evidence has proven genetic grounds as a potential cause that increases the risk of spinal stenosis. Although there are no direct treatments available for the condition, yet several measures for reducing the symptoms. Exercises and therapies are highly effective in this condition which ideally help in coping up with the condition.
2. Causes of Spinal Stenosis
Spinal stenosis is one of the most commonly affected spinal anomaly which can occur due to a number of reasons. In general, the condition may arise due to:
- Continuous wear and tear due to bone degeneration can lead to enhanced friction and thus, spinal stenosis
- Bone spurs or additional growths in the vertebrae may cause spinal stenosis to occur
- Herniated disc: Bulging or squeezing or protruding of the disc outside the vertebral column, compressing the nerves and vessels can be extremely painful and cause various spinal disorders
- Prior injuries or physical trauma can cause spinal stenosis in later periods of life.
- Stiffening of ligaments are common and cause various other disorders.
3. Diagnosis and Symptoms for Spinal Stenosis
Physical examination is highly preferred in the case of diagnosing spinal disorders, especially to determine the origin of pain. Apart from that, the other ways of diagnosing the condition are:
- X-Ray of the vertebral column. This is a preliminary test suggested to get a clear picture of the spinal condition. Any kind of deformity should be primarily detected through X-Ray.
- MRI or Magnetic Resonance Imaging, for better understanding of internal anomaly (if any)
- CT scan, for obtaining a clearer image of the spinal condition
- Bone scan: Any kind of bone spurs or growth, as well as damage, gets detected.
- Electromyogram: It is especially performed in order to check the spinal nerve health.
The diagnosis is restricted to the symptoms observed, reported and recognized. In general, common symptoms for spinal stenosis are:
- Pain in the neck or lower back region is quite common. However, leg aches may also occur
- Loss of proper balance
- Stiffness or tenderness in the lower limbs
- Painful and restricted movements in the back.
4. Treatments available for Spinal Stenosis
- Medicines like Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs abbreviated as NSAIDs are particularly helpful and prescribed preliminarily to reduce inflammation. Along with this, painkillers are also prescribed for providing relief from pain.
- The required dosage of cortisone might be injected directly into the spine for reducing the symptoms and providing instant relief.
- Physical therapy for a prolonged period of time may help considerably.
- Regular exercises as directed by medical professionals.
- Spinal stenosis surgery: Three types of surgical options are available in such cases, which are:
- Foraminotomy: This procedure helps in widening or broadening the space between two adjacent vertebrae, to reduce the compression on the nerves
- Laminectomy: a Most commonly performed procedure in which the damaged portion of the vertebrae is removed
- Spinal fusion: In this procedure, the adjacent vertebrae are fused together after the elimination of the damaged portion. This is specifically performed in extreme cases.