12235.jpegIn today's fast-paced world, lower back pain is a common complaint among people of all ages. It can be caused by various factors such as poor posture, muscle strain, or injury. However, there is one particular condition that not many people are aware of – spinal stenosis.

Spinal stenosis is a narrowing of the spaces within your spine which puts pressure on the nerves that travel through it. This can lead to debilitating lower back pain and other symptoms that significantly affect your daily life.

Grand Rapids Pain, home to the most experienced interventional pain specialists in West Michigan, is committed to providing comprehensive care and treatment plans for spinal stenosis. In this article, we will discuss 6 signs of spinal stenosis that you should be aware of.

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Understanding Spinal Stenosis 

Spinal stenosis occurs when the spinal canal, which contains the nerve roots and spinal nerves, becomes narrowed. This narrowing can lead to compression of the nerves, causing chronic pain, numbness, or weakness, especially in the legs. That often results from wear-and-tear changes associated with osteoarthritis, leading to the development of bone spurs that can encroach on the space of the spinal canal.

It most frequently affects the lumbar spine (lower back) but can also occur in the cervical spine (neck) and thoracic spine (upper back). As we age, the risk of developing spinal stenosis increases, with most cases occurring in people over 50 years old. In some cases, spinal stenosis may also be present at birth or develop as a side effect of a previous injury or surgery.

6 Signs & Symptoms Of Spinal Stenosis

1. Persistent Pain in Your Lower Back

Burning pain going into the buttocks and down into the legs (sciatica) is a common spinal stenosis symptom. This type of pain may feel dull, achy, or sharp and can be felt anywhere along the spine – from the base of the neck to the tailbone. The pain may also radiate down to your legs, making it difficult for you to stand, walk, or even sit for prolonged periods.

The pain may come and go, but if it persists for weeks or months, it could be a sign of spinal stenosis. If you experience persistent pain in your lumbar spine, visit Grand Rapids Pain to determine the cause.

2. Difficulty with Walking

As spinal stenosis affects the nerves that control movement and sensation, it can lead to difficulty in walking or maintaining balance. You may feel unsteady on your feet or experience weakness in your thigh and leg muscles, making it challenging to walk for an extended period or engage in physical activities.

This symptom is known as neurogenic claudication and requires medical treatment. Dr. Keith Javery and  Dr. Girish Juneja can help alleviate this symptom and improve your mobility.

3. Numbness or Tingling in Your Legs or Feet

Spinal stenosis can also cause numbness or tingling sensations (“pins and needles”) in the legs, feet, or toes. This happens because the narrowed spaces in your spine put pressure on the nerves that control sensation in these areas.

Depending on your spinal position or activity level, the numbness or tingling may come and go.  However, if it persists, these sensations can affect your ability to perform daily tasks and lead to discomfort and frustration.

4. Pain That Eases When Bending Forward

Many people with spinal stenosis find that their pain improves when they bend forward. This is because bending forward can open up the narrowed spaces in your spine, reducing pressure on the affected nerves.

This relief may be temporary and may only be felt during certain activities.  If you experience this type of pain relief, it is still essential to seek medical treatment as spinal stenosis can worsen over time if left untreated.

5. Loss of Bladder or Bowel Control

In severe cases of spinal stenosis, the nerves that control bladder and bowel function may also be affected. This can lead to a loss of control over your bladder or bowels, causing you to experience incontinence.

If you are experiencing sudden or unexpected changes in your bathroom habits, it is essential to seek medical attention immediately. Grand Rapids Pain offers personalized treatment plans to help manage this symptom and improve your quality of life.

6. Changes in Sexual  Function

Spinal stenosis can also affect your sexual function and intimacy. As the condition puts pressure on the nerves that control sensation and blood flow, it can lead to changes in sexual desire, arousal, and performance.

This can cause frustration and strain on your relationship. If you are experiencing changes in sexual function along with other symptoms of spinal stenosis, it is crucial to consult a medical professional for proper diagnosis and treatment.  

Treatment Options Available At Grand Rapids Pain

At GRP, our approach to treating lumbar spinal stenosis is comprehensive and tailored to each patient's unique condition. Our treatment options include:

1. Conservative Interventions

We always start with the least invasive treatments possible. These may include physical therapy to strengthen the muscles around the spine and improve flexibility, as well as medication management to relieve pain and inflammation. Lifestyle modifications and patient education play an essential role in managing symptoms and improving overall spine health.

2. Injection Therapy

For patients who do not find sufficient relief through conservative interventions alone, injection therapy can be an effective next step. Corticosteroid injections help reduce inflammation around the nerve roots, while injections like nerve blocks can provide temporary pain relief. 

3. Minimally Invasive Surgery (Vertiflex)

When more conservative measures are not enough, we may recommend minimally invasive options such as: 

  • The Vertiflex™ Procedure† is a minimally invasive spinal implant designed to maintain the spacing in the vertebrae, relieving pressure on the nerves in the spinal canal. This procedure offers a viable alternative to more extensive surgery, with a quicker recovery time.
  • Minuteman® is an interspinous-interlaminar fusion device intended for the stabilization and fusion of the thoracic, lumbar, and sacral spine.  It works by reducing pressure on the affected nerves and supporting the spine's natural stabilization system.
  • Spinal Cord Stimulation (SCS) uses a small implanted device to send mild electrical pulses to the spinal cord, masking pain signals and providing relief for chronic pain conditions like spinal stenosis.
  • Nerve Root Neuromodulation targets the nerves affected by spinal stenosis. It involves placing a small device near the nerve root and using electrical pulses to block pain signals.
  • Peripheral Nerve Stimulation targets the nerves outside of the spinal cord, providing similar pain relief for patients who may not be candidates for SCS or nerve root neuromodulation.
  • Median Rami Neuromodulation targets the median nerves in the spine, providing targeted pain relief for patients with chronic back and leg pain

GRP is committed to bringing you the most advanced and least invasive options available. Before you consider the path of major spinal surgeries, we encourage you to consult with Dr. Keith and Dr. Girish. In a significant number of cases, our innovative approaches can offer relief and restore function without the need for extensive surgical procedures. 

4. Spinal Neurostimulation for Failed Decompression Surgery

For patients who have not achieved relief from symptoms following decompression surgery, or in cases where surgery is not an option, spinal neurostimulation may provide relief. This involves the use of a small device that sends electrical pulses to the spinal cord to block pain signals from reaching the brain. It's a reversible treatment that can significantly improve the quality of life for patients with chronic spinal stenosis pain.

Find Relief With Grand Rapids Pain!

Spinal stenosis is a condition characterized by the narrowing of spaces within the spine, causing pressure on the nerves and leading to symptoms such as persistent lower back pain, difficulty walking, numbness or tingling in the legs and feet, and even changes in bladder or bowel function and sexual performance. Recognizing these signs early is crucial for effective management and treatment.

With  Dr. Javery  and  Dr. Juneja of Grand Rapids Pain on your side, you can expect personalized care and treatment plans to help alleviate your symptoms and improve your quality of life. Don't let spinal stenosis hold you back – schedule an appointment today! 

If you suspect you might be suffering from spinal stenosis or are seeking relief from persistent back pain, don't hesitate to schedule an appointment with  Dr. Keith Javery or  Dr. Girish Juneja.Contact at (616) 727-0083.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I still be active with spinal stenosis?

Yes, it is possible to stay active with spinal stenosis. Engaging in low-impact exercises such as walking, swimming, or cycling can help improve your symptoms and overall mobility. However, it is important to consult with a medical professional like Dr. Keith Javery or  Dr. Girish Juneja before starting any exercise routine.

Can I prevent spinal stenosis?

There are no guaranteed ways to prevent spinal stenosis, but maintaining good posture and regularly exercising can help keep your spine healthy. It is also important to avoid smoking and maintain a healthy weight to decrease your risk of developing this condition.  However, it is best to schedule a consultation at Grand Rapids Pain for personalized advice on preventing spinal stenosis. 

Is spinal stenosis curable?

While there is no cure for spinal stenosis, it can be effectively managed and treated with the help of  Dr. Keith Javery or Dr. Girish Juneja. Treatment options such as physical therapy, medications, injections, and surgery can help alleviate symptoms and improve quality of life.

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