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Learn how spinal stenosis is diagnosed and treated in Cincinnati by Laser Spine Institute’s medical team

Spinal stenosis is the narrowing of the nerve pathways in the spinal column and can lead to a number of painful symptoms that can be disruptive to normal activity and quality of life. This is normally an age-related condition that has a number of underlying causes, from arthritis to a herniated disc.

If this condition is affecting your life, making you miss time with your family and days of work, lasting relief and a return to a healthy and active lifestyle are possible. Learning more about this condition, and all of the options available for treatment, is a great first step in getting your life back.

Spinal stenosis causes

There are a number of spine conditions that can lead to a reduction of space within the spinal column. Whether caused by injury, age-related degenerative changes or other factors, these conditions include:

  • Bone spurs — smooth, bony growths that develop on top of regular bone
  • Bulging disc — a spinal disc that has protruded beyond its intended space in the spinal column
  • Herniated disc — a spinal disc in which the material from the disc’s inner core has exited through a small tear in the disc and has entered into the spinal column
  • Degenerative disc disease — a condition characterized by the ongoing deterioration of spinal discs

Diagnosing spinal stenosis

When you first visit your physician for unexplained, persistent back pain, he or she will ask you to describe your symptoms, including the location of your pain and any activities that may cause your symptoms to worsen. You will likely then undergo a physical examination, as well as some sort of medical imaging test, like an X-ray, CT scan or MRI, to confirm your diagnosis. Once a diagnosis has been achieved, you and your physician can work to develop a course of treatment that best fits your individual needs.

Spinal stenosis symptoms

Pain associated with spinal stenosis is most commonly caused by the restriction of nerves as the spinal canal narrows. Symptoms of both cervical and lumbar spinal stenosis generally include:

  • Cramping in the legs
  • Pain in the affected area of the spine
  • Pain that radiates to the hips, shoulders and extremities
  • Stiffness
  • Difficulty balancing or walking
  • Numbness
  • Headaches and dizziness
  • Muscle weakness

Conservative and alternative spinal stenosis treatment

A large number of patients with spinal stenosis do not require surgery, as conservative and alternative methods of treatment are often enough to achieve significant relief. Conservative treatment attempts to reduce the symptoms of a spine condition without using surgical procedures. These methods may include medication, corticosteroid injections, hot and cold compresses and physical therapy. In addition to conservative treatments, alternative methods of treatment, which are not universally endorsed throughout the medical community, help to promote the body’s natural healing process, and may include herbal supplements, chiropractic adjustment, yoga, Pilates, acupuncture and massage therapy. You should always consult your doctor before trying any of these therapies.

Spinal stenosis surgery

After being diagnosed with spinal stenosis, patients are encouraged to review all of the treatment options available. Laser Spine Institute’s Cincinnati center offers minimally invasive outpatient spine surgery specially developed to treat the symptoms associated with spinal stenosis. These procedures include:

  • Laminotomy. Our surgeons perform this surgery by removing a small portion of the lamina, which helps form the wall of the spinal canal. This is done to take pressure off the spinal cord, opening the narrowed space caused by spinal stenosis.
  • Anterior cervical discectomy fusion. Also called an ACDF, this procedure involves removal of damaged disc material and replacing it with a bone graft or an artificial disc replacement.
  • Transforaminal lumbar interbody fusion. Also called a TLIF, the surgeon removes the whole damaged disc causing the narrowing and inserts bone graft and a spacer into the disc space to stabilize the surrounding vertebrae.

If you are suffering from spinal stenosis, you may be a candidate for one of our minimally invasive alternatives to open spine surgery. Our minimally invasive spine surgery is often the clinically appropriate first choice and provides many advantages versus open neck or back surgery, such as a streamlined experience that eliminates hospital-associated costs and allows you to get back to your life faster.^ Since 2005 we have helped more than 75,000 patients with their neck and back pain.

Contact Laser Spine Institute today to receive a no-cost review of your most recent MRI or CT scan* to see if you may be a candidate one of these procedures at our Cincinnati center.