If you have spinal stenosis, it means your spinal canal is narrowing and pressing on the spinal cord. This leads to pain from compressed nerves that can be hard to cope with, but expert spine surgeon Timothy Spencer, DO, at Greater Michigan Spine & Neurosurgery in and Battle Creek, Michigan, can help. Dr. Spencer is skilled in using minimally invasive techniques to treat spinal stenosis. Call Greater Michigan Spine & Neurosurgery today.

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What is spinal stenosis?

Spinal stenosis is a back problem involving a narrowing of your spine. It causes lower back pain as well as pain in the hips, buttocks, and legs. 

Your legs might also feel heavy, and spinal stenosis typically causes tingling sensations, cramping, and weakness as well. Spinal stenosis can also cause neck pain.

Lumbar spinal stenosis pain comes from an area at the bottom of your spine called the cauda equina. The nerves in this part of your spinal column come under pressure from the narrowing spine, resulting in pain and other symptoms.

If you have spinal stenosis, you’re likely to find the pain is worse when you’re standing up, but eases if you sit down. Relieving pressure on the spinal nerves by leaning forward also helps reduce the pain of spinal stenosis.

What causes spinal stenosis?

It’s possible to be born with a narrow spinal column, but most people who have spinal stenosis develop the condition as they age. Common causes for spinal stenosis include:

Bone overgrowth

Osteoarthritis in your spine sometimes causes your body to generate bone spurs, with the intent of supporting your spine. However, bone spurs tend to grow into your spinal canal and cause narrowing. Bone overgrowth can also be due to a condition called Paget’s disease.

Herniated discs

Spinal discs are the cushioning pads between your vertebrae. They have a high water content when you’re young, but the discs tend to dry out with age, making them more likely to develop cracks in the outer surface. The soft interior of the disc can then push through these cracks and start pressing on your spinal cord.

Thickened ligaments

Ligaments attach bones to other bones. Over time these fibrous connective tissues can stiffen and become thicker, making them protrude into your spinal canal.

Spinal injuries

Spinal injuries from falls and accidents might involve fractures or dislocations of the vertebrae that cause narrowing of the spinal canal. Or postsurgical swelling could put pressure on the spinal canal.

It’s possible for tumors to cause spinal stenosis, but this is rare.

How is spinal stenosis treated?

At Greater Michigan Spine & Neurosurgery, Dr. Spencer’s treatments aim to relieve the pressure on your nerves that are causing the symptoms of spinal stenosis. Most patients benefit from a tailored program consisting of treatments such as:

  • Physical therapy
  • Stretching exercises
  • Therapeutic massage
  • Anti-inflammatory medications
  • Radiofrequency ablation
  • Regenerative medicine

Sometimes spinal stenosis doesn’t respond to these conservative approaches. If this happens in your case, you might need to undergo minimally invasive procedures such as decompression surgery or laminectomy to relieve the pressure on the nerves. Dr. Spencer is highly skilled in minimally invasive techniques to relieve your pain.

If you have symptoms of spinal stenosis, call Greater Michigan Spine & Neurosurgery today to schedule a consultation.