Stenosis is a term that means that an area normally open is narrowed. In the spine, the term refers to a narrowing of the spinal canal, the opening that houses the spinal cord. The opening may be narrowed as a result of a congenital condition or from degenerative changes associated with arthritis. The result often produces symptoms related to compression of the spinal cord and nerve roots. Most often, the stenosis affects the lumbar region, causing irritation and sometimes dysfunction of the nerve roots in the lower back. Symptoms may include pain in the lower back, buttocks, thigh and calf, usually precipitated by activity and relieved to varying degrees by rest. More severe symptoms may include pain in the hips and abdomen and a sensation of heaviness in the legs during walking and other activities. In some cases, the symptoms may mimic problems with the circulation of the legs and a diagnostic evaluation will be required to rule out vascular problems. Usually a CT scan/myelogram or MRI will reveal the stenosis.
Your physician may recommend some of the following treatments:
- Medications to reduce inflammation during “flare ups” of the condition
- Exercise or physical therapy to strengthen the muscular support of the area and reduce symptoms
- Surgery is recommended in some cases, to stabilize the vertebral column in the affected area
For more information about stenosis of the spine, please call (918) 494-AOOK (2665).