Spinal Stenosis

Chicago based Minimally Invasive Spinal Surgeon - Conditions and Treatments

Cervical Spinal Stenosis

What Is Spinal Stenosis?

Spinal stenosis is the narrowing of the space for the spinal cord or nerve branches. More specifically, as the spine degenerates over time, it can lead to the formation of bone spurs. As the bone spurs form, the size of the spinal canal (boney tunnel transmitting the spinal nerves) becomes smaller. The bone spurs press on the spinal cord or the nerve roots, often causing pain or weakness. This degenerative condition is most common in the upper spine (neck / cervical spinal stenosis) region or in the lower spine (lumbar) region. It is also associated with spondlylolisthesis (slipping forward of one vertebra relative to another) and scoliosis (crooked spine). More than 1.2 million Americans suffer back pain stemming from spinal stenosis, with men and women being affected equally. Women, however, are more likely to have symptoms that require treatment. And while spinal stenosis can affect younger patients, it is most common in those 60 and older. Arthritis is the most common cause of spinal stenosis.


What Are the Symptoms of Spinal Stenosis?

What Are the Causes of Spinal Stenosis?

What Are the Treatments for Spinal Stenosis?

Non-surgical Treatment

Physicians at Midwest Orthopaedics at Rush first use conservative, non-surgical treatments for spinal stenosis. Non-surgical treatments, however, do not correct spinal narrowing. Instead, the treatment options for spinal arthritis and spinal stenosis are aimed at controlling pain and improving quality of life for some patients. Some treatment options include:

  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs to reduce swelling
  • Exercise
  • Physical therapy to increase flexibility
  • Spinal steroidal injections or “blocks”
Surgical Treatment

If a patient does not improve after non-surgical treatment, Dr. Singh may suggest surgery as a solution for spinal stenosis. The goal of the surgery is to open the spinal canal to give nerves adequate space. There are two primary kinds of surgery to treat spinal stenosis, depending on whether or not the patient has coexisting instability (abnormal movement) or deformity (abnormal alignment of the spine). Dr. Singh would only consider fusion surgery for indications that are supported by the spine literature:

  • Lumbar laminectomy
  • Lumbar fusion