Surgery for Spinal Stenosis

Spinal stenosis is a painful condition characterized by the narrowing of the spinal canal. This passageway contains your spinal cord as well as a host of nerve roots, and abnormal pressure in this area can cause pain and disability.

Spinal stenosis is categorized as either primary or acquired stenosis.

Primary – Primary spinal stenosis occurs when a person is born with the condition. This doesn’t mean that a person will show symptoms of the stenosis right after birth, but the birth defect can cause problems later in life.

Acquired – Acquired spinal stenosis occurs when a disease or traumatic injury causes a narrowing of the canal. Some of the leading causes of acquired spinal stenosis are osteoarthritis and car crashes.

Doctors will generally attempt to treat the stenosis with conservative measures before proceeding to surgery. Some common non-operative treatment methods include physical therapy, exercise, anti-inflammatory medications and chiropractic care. If those options fail, your doctor may recommend a surgical procedure.

Spinal Stenosis Surgery

If your doctor decides surgery is the best option, the first thing he’ll do is examine your whole spine with an MRI or CT scan. Imaging is crucial in order to identify all the problemed areas, as not addressing all compressed areas may not fully alleviate pain.

Once the surgeon has identified the affected areas, they will sit down with the patient to discuss their options. The most common form of surgery for spinal stenosis is a lumbar laminectomy, which has a success rate of about 80 percent. The lumbar laminectomy procedure is designed to remove a small portion of the bone over the nerve root that is impinged in order to give the nerve more space and a better healing environment. The doctor preforms this procedure by creating a small two- to -five-inch incision along the midline of the back to access the troubled spot. The spine is addressed, the lamina (part of the vertebra) is removed, and the facet joints may then be cut to allow the nerve roots more room.

Other spinal stenosis options, which we’ll cover in future blog posts, include:

If you believe you’re suffering from spinal stenosis, you owe it to your body to schedule a consultation with a licensed back specialist.

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