Spinal stenosis often occurs in the lumbar region, but it can affect other areas of your spine. The problem could be a sign of physiological conditions such as osteoarthritis, degenerative disc disease, or slipped vertebrae. If you experience numbness, back pain, or muscle weakness, here is an outline of the Roswell spinal stenosis diagnosis and treatment process.
What is spinal stenosis?
Spinal stenosis occurs when the spine deteriorates, reducing spaces in the vertebral canal. The vertebrae canal refers to the hollow spaces within the backbone that protects nerves. The changes can place excessive strain on the nerves, which may lead to unbearable pain.
The problem may progress gradually for years or decades. It affects people over 60, prone to spinal disc degeneration. As the bones weaken, they bulge, narrowing the spinal canal that shields the nerves.
Symptoms typically include tingling sensation, limb weakness, and numbness. Severe cases may lead to sexual dysfunction and problems with bowel control. Pain and numbness may reduce when the patient changes their posture.
Spinal stenosis diagnosis
The diagnostic process involves an exam of your body’s mobility issues and neurological dysfunction. Checking your reflexes, balance, and strength can help isolate where there is nerve compression. Your physician may assess your posture as you walk to determine if there is a spinal problem.
Besides a medical exam and a prescription medication review, a spinal stenosis diagnosis uses visual tools to study spinal degeneration. The process may involve imaging with x-rays, MRI, or Myelography.
- X-rays: While x-rays can only generate images of bones, they are an invaluable tool for studying calcification and disc degeneration. A buildup of calcium in the lumbar and cervical spine can lead to the narrowing of the vertebrae. X-rays can provide accurate data on bone formations to diagnose spinal stenosis arising from injuries or genetic conditions.
- Myelopathy: Myelography is a radio wave diagnostic tool that uses a dye as a contrast medium to detect spinal cord anomalies. Even though MRI is considered a more reliable process, it may be useful for patients who cannot undergo an MRI.
- MRI: A Magnetic Resonance Imaging tool can generate accurate visuals of bones and tissue around the affected site. MRIs help physicians study tendons and muscle structures. The equipment produces a series of high-resolution images using powerful radio waves to study movements. MRIs can help your physician determine the exact site of nerve compression.
Spinal stenosis treatment options
Your physician will consider non-surgical and non-pharmacological options before recommending other treatment alternatives. Posture adjustments and physical activities may relieve symptoms in some cases of spinal stenosis.
Prescription medication is sometimes necessary to relieve pain and reduce inflammation. An epidural steroid injection can eliminate symptoms for patients with severe pain.
Your physician can suggest surgery when medication and physical therapy is ineffective for addressing the symptom. A surgical procedure like spinal fusion is necessary for repositioning vertebrae that have slipped out of place. The process may also involve decompression to reduce the pressure on the nerves.
Call Apex Spine and Neurosurgery to book a spinal stenosis or schedule an online appointment today.