Studying the Diagnosis and Treatment of Spinal Stenosis

Posted on May 21, 2018


Back pain is a common ailment among Americans. Backs can become injured by lifting a box (or a child) incorrectly, or by sleeping in an awkward position. One of the most common and painful types of back injury is spinal stenosis. Caused by a narrowing of the spaces within the spine, symptoms include pain, tingling, numbness, and muscle weakness. To get a proper diagnosis, it's wise to visit an orthopedic surgery specialist in Suffolk County, NY. Here's how the process works.


After your doctor gives you a physical examination and studies your symptoms and medical history, he or she may require imaging tests to come up with a diagnosis. There are three principal types of tests he or she may conduct: X-ray, MRI, or CT. X-rays are effective at revealing any changes that may be occurring within your bones. Spurs, for instance, may be resulting in a narrowing of the spinal canal. An MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) uses radio waves and a strong magnet to reveal a cross-section of the spine which is effective for showing damage to the ligaments, as well as places where there may be pressure being put on the nerves. If an MRI isn't an option, your doctor may recommend a CT (computerized tomography) exam. Combining X-ray images of the body taken simultaneously from different angles, CTs can show a detailed cross-section of the spine.



Treatment for spinal stenosis varies widely depending on its severity in a patient. If the symptoms are relatively mild, your doctor may recommend a combination of medications and physical therapy. Common medications are usually pain relievers, antidepressants, or anti-seizure drugs which are effective for reducing pain resulting from damaged nerves. Another way to relieve pain is through steroid injection to reduce inflammation. If none of these treatments are sufficient, your doctor may recommend surgery.


The purpose of surgery is to create space in the spinal canal, thereby relieving the pain caused by compression of the spinal cord and nerve roots. Most operations involve removal of the lamina (the back part of the vertebrae) which relieves pressure on a particular part of the spine. Oftentimes, the operation will require a spinal fusion as well to strengthen and stabilize the spinal column. If you are not a good candidate for surgery, there is a non-surgical decompression procedure your doctor might recommend. Using needle-like instruments, a surgeon can remove a portion of a thickened ligament to create space and relieve pressure on the nerves. This procedure is only available to sufferers of lumbar spinal stenosis who have a thickened ligament.

Whether you require surgery or not, the important thing is you get your back examined by an orthopedic spine specialist. Suffolk County, NY, has several qualified doctors available who can give you the help you need.