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Lower back pain is usually associated with a spine problem. This is called spinal stenosis where the space within the spine shrinks and puts pressure on the nerves that travel through the spine. While some people with Spinal Stenosis have no pain, others may experience excruciating pain, numbness, tingling sensation, and muscle weakness.
There are two types of spinal stenosis – Cervical Stenosis, where the narrowing occurs in the part of the spine in the neck; and lumbar stenosis where the narrowing occurs in the lower back.
When patients are unable to overcome the symptoms, they are advised to visit a spine center in Spokane for proper diagnosis, care, and treatment.
Some people are born with a small spinal cord and have spinal cord problems since childhood. But in most cases, spinal stenosis occurs when something happens that results in the narrowing of space within the spine. Some of the causes include –
- Overgrowth of bone where bone spurs are formed due to wear and tear from osteoarthritis.
- Herniated discs where the soft cushions between the vertebrae that act as shock absorbers dry out with age and result in cracks.
- Thickening of ligaments occurs when the tough cords holding the bones of the spine together thicken over time and bulge into the spinal cord.
- Tumors of abnormal growths which may form inside the spinal cord or between the spinal cord and vertebrae.
- Spinal injuries may occur due to car accidents and other trauma. There can be dislocations and fractures of one or more vertebrae. Displaced bone from a fracture in the spine can cause damage to the spinal canal.
Initial Checkup by Specialist
The spine treatment starts when a patient visits a spine specialist after facing complications such as Numbness, Weakness, balance Problem, Incontinence, or paralysis. To diagnose the exact problem, the patient will be asked about the symptoms. He will then ask the patient about his medical history. In most cases, he may order some imaging tests to pinpoint the cause of the patient’s discomfort.
There are several kinds of imaging tests. The most common one is an X-Ray which can reveal changes in bone structure using radiations. Another common imaging test is Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI). An MRI is useful in detecting damage in a patient’s disk and ligaments and can also detect a tumor. It can also identify where the nerves in the spinal cord are being pressured. This is done by the use of powerful magnets and radio waves that produce cross-sectional images of the spine.
Computerized Tomography (CT Scan) is another imaging test that combines X-ray images taken from many different angles to produce a more detailed cross-sectional image. Sometimes contrast dyes are injected to outline the spinal cord to reveal bone spurs, tumors, and disks.
After the imaging tests, specialists can understand the root cause and proceed to the treatment. The treatment of spinal stenosis will depend on the location of the stenosis and the severity of the patient’s pain. For mild pain or no pain, a specialist may prescribe some medication and self-care tips such as exercises or hot or cold compresses. If the pain is unbearable, the patient may go for therapies such as physiotherapy. Surgery is the last option if other treatments do not help.
Knowing how to proceed for a spinal treatment can be helpful as a patient will understand the reason for specialties to recommend a particular type of imaging test or advise a particular type of treatment.