While our spine is a mighty piece of engineering, it is prone to the same deterioration that comes with age as we see across our bodies. Over time the spine can develop degenerative changes that lead to compression of the spinal cord or the nerve roots exiting the spinal canal. This condition is called spinal stenosis and it can lead to serious problems with the arms and legs, and even result in paralysis in extreme cases.
To address the pain caused by this nerve compression, Dr. Trujillo has various options.
What is spinal stenosis?
Your spine is made up of a series of vertebrae with shock-absorbing discs between them. As we age the spine can develop degenerative changes in the intervertebral discs and joints that can create a narrowing of the spinal canal. This tightening can create pressure on the spinal cord, which then leads to issues with movement and coordination in the arms and legs.
There are various reasons why our spinal canal narrows. Bone spurs may develop around the vertebrae and facet joints. Degenerative changes in the supporting spinal ligaments may cause them to thicken, shrinking the space in the spinal canal. Arthritis can enlarge the joints. Disc protrusions, and bulging or herniated discs can also narrow the spinal canal. Spinal stenosis usually continues to progress as the effects of any or all of these conditions keep narrowing the spinal canal putting more pressure on the spinal cord.
Stenosis is more common in the lower back, where is it known as lumbar spinal stenosis. But it is more dangerous in the seven vertebrae that make up the neck, where the condition is known as cervical stenosis. Thoracic stenosis in the chest is more rare.
What are the symptoms of spinal stenosis?
Because the spinal cord is being squeezed, the symptoms of stenosis are nerve related. These are some of the typical symptoms:
- Arm pain
- Intermittent shooting pains into the arms and legs, especially when bending forward
- Deterioration of fine motor skills such as those needed to button your shirt
- Inability to walk briskly
- Loss of grip strength
- Heavy feeling in the legs
- Changes in bowel or bladder function
How is stenosis treated at Summit Healthcare Pain Clinic?
Dr. Trujillo uses various options to treat the pain that results from spinal stenosis. He may start with anti-inflammatory medications, muscle relaxers, or pain medication. For many patients, steroid injections into the area of the spine with compression can be very effective. Physical therapy can be effective, in combination with medication, to stabilize and improve the patient’s symptoms. The problem with these options is that they don’t address the actual compression, so more involved procedure such as radiofrequency ablation may be necessary.
If you’re suffering the chronic pain associated with compressed nerves, don’t feel that it is something you should “live with.” Please call us at Summit Healthcare Pain Clinic, (928) 532-1605, to schedule an appointment.