Spinal stenosis is a condition in which the bones that make up the spine tighten around the spinal cord, reducing the cushioning space between them and putting too much pressure on the spinal cord. It can be caused by:
- The natural wear and tear of aging
- Back problems since birth
Spinal stenosis causes a variety of uncomfortable symptoms, including:
- Pain in the back, neck, legs, or bottom
- Burning sensation or numbness in the legs
- Weakness in the legs
Spinal Stenosis Care at MedStar Georgetown
MedStar Georgetown is home to accomplished, experienced spinal surgeons who will work with you every step of the way to find the most effective solutions for your pain. First, we listen to your medical history, your concerns, and your questions. Then, we explain the details of your diagnosis and your treatment options.
We help you understand the risks and benefits of all options so you can make the most informed and appropriate choices. Whenever we can, we recommend non-surgical treatment to manage your condition, like physical therapy or lifestyle changes. If you do need surgery, we specialize in the most advanced surgical methods, including minimally invasive decompressive surgery for the treatment of spinal stenosis.
Spinal Stenosis Diagnosis
The orthopedic surgeons at Georgetown are experts at diagnosing spinal stenosis. Our initial exam generally includes:
- Taking your medical history – This includes asking questions about when your pain began, and when the pain feels most severe. Other questions may be about whether you have other medical problems, and if you take any medications.
- Physical exam – The orthopedist will determine where your back is most sensitive by examining it and by asking you to move and bend in different directions.
- Imaging tests – Your orthopedist may want to examine the bones and joints themselves using a variety of imaging techniques, including:
- X-ray, which shows if your bones are aging, making spinal stenosis more likely
- CT scan, which combines X-ray technology with computers to provide a very detailed picture of the spine
- MRI, which uses powerful magnets and computer technology to create a picture of your muscles, tissues, nerves, and disks
- Myelogram, in which your orthopedist injects special dye into your spine. The dye colors your nerves, and shows if they are being squeezed by the vertebrae.
Spinal Stenosis Treatment
Treatment for spinal stenosis generally depends on the severity of pain. The experienced team of spine surgeons at Georgetown will work with you and your family to develop the most effective treatment plan. Our team will recommend any combination of non-surgical and surgical treatment options designed to ease your pain and increase your activity level.
Treatment options aside from surgery may include:
- Prescription and over-the-counter anti-inflammatory or pain medications
- Injections of steroids or anti-inflammatory medications
- Physical therapy, including massage and exercises to strengthen the back
If non-surgical treatments, including anti-inflammatory or pain medications, steroid injections, or physical therapy, do not relieve the pain, surgery may be an option. The orthopaedic surgeons at MedStar Georgetown are extensively trained in the most advanced and innovative surgical procedures to treat spinal stenosis.
- Laminectomy, or decompression, removes the bones or ligaments that press on the nerves or spinal cord.
- Spinal fusion unites vertebrae together to help stabilize the spine.