Spinal stenosis is a common problem. In fact, you can find degenerative changes in the spine in up to 95% of people by the time they reach 50. However, age-related changes aren’t the only thing that increases your chances of this painful condition — spinal injuries can also put you at risk.
Our team at Glaser Pain Relief Center diagnoses and treats spinal conditions like stenosis in Encino, California. Here, we offer some insights into spinal stenosis and how an injury increases your chances of this condition.
How your spine works
The spine contains a hollow passage, or canal, formed by bony building blocks known as vertebrae.
Vertebrae have two primary sections. The front is a cylinder-like bone, or the vertebral body. The back has a pair of facet joints that form the bump you feel when you press on your spine. The open channel between the two sections protects your spinal cord.
Your spinal cord runs from the bottom of your skull to your sacrum at the back of your pelvis. Along the way, nerve roots branch off at each vertebra, exiting the spine through holes — or foramina — on each side of your back.
This complex system is how your brain communicates with your body, and vice versa.
Spinal stenosis basics
When you have spinal stenosis, the canal or foramina in your spine grows narrow, putting pressure on your spinal cord or nerves. This can occur anywhere in your spine, though it’s most common in your lower back and neck.
Common signs of spinal stenosis include:
- Neck pain or back pain
- Numbness, tingling, or weakness in your arm, leg, hand, or foot
- Heaviness or cramping in your legs
- Loss of function in your hands
- Problems with balance
Severe spinal stenosis can also cause issues with bladder or bowel control.
Back injuries and spinal stenosis
It may seem obvious that a traumatic injury, like a car accident or fracture, could increase your chances of a spinal condition like stenosis. However, even lifting something incorrectly can shift vertebrae out of alignment or lead to a herniated disc, both common back injuries that can lead to spinal stenosis.
When you damage delicate structures in your spine, it puts added pressure on your spinal cord and nerves. That means any back injury that causes inflammation or swelling can lead to spinal stenosis.
If you sustained a spine injury or notice signs of spinal stenosis, it’s important to speak to a specialist so you can start treatment as soon as possible.
Treating spinal stenosis
Spinal stenosis often begins gradually and worsens over time, so starting an effective management strategy at the first signs of a problem can help preserve your spine health for as long as possible.
Common treatments for spinal stenosis include:
- Lifestyle modifications
- Physical therapy
- Epidural injections or facet blocks
- Radiofrequency ablation
- Spinal cord stimulation
- Vertiflex procedure
If your condition doesn’t respond to less invasive strategies, we could suggest surgery, but only if absolutely necessary.
Could you have spinal stenosis? Don’t wait to find help for a back problem that arises from an injury. Contact our office in the San Fernando Valley to schedule a consultation with an interventional pain specialist by calling 818-862-3388 or requesting an appointment online today.