Spinal Stenosis
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Spinal stenosis is a common problem noted in the elderly population. As we age, the joints in the spine become arthritic and form bone spurs; the ligaments "thicken" and the discs collapse and "protrude" into the spinal canal.

The spinal canal has a limited amount of space, and as the bony spurs, disc and ligament invade into the canal, the nerves have less room available to them. The increasing pressure on the nerves cause some back and mostly leg pain which usually worsens with standing or walking; the leg pain is usually relieved by sitting.

The MRI above shows the spinal canal narrowing at the point of the two white arrows. The fluid in the canal narrows as a result of "spinal stenosis".

Most people are able to control exacerbations of their pain with medications and physical therapy. When medications are no longer effective, epidural steroid injections are tried which have a reasonable success rate to help calm the irritated nerve roots down.

If all of the above treatments fail and the patient is unable to live with the pain, the option of surgical decompression is offered. Only a small percentage of people end up having surgery for this condition. Potential surgical complications have to be weighed against the potential benefit of the surgery and a decision can then be made to proceed with surgical intervention.

The information contained above is intended for general reference purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice or a medical exam. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health professional before starting any new treatment. No health information on Spine Specialty Institute, including information about herbal therapies and other dietary supplements, is regulated or evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration and therefore the information should not be used to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease without the supervision of a medical doctor.