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Spinal Stenosis: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment

spinalstenosis

Dr. Leipzig is a board-certified Virginia spine surgeon with over two decades of experience. He treats spinal stenosis, specializing in procedures like minimally invasive lumbar laminoplasty, microsurgical lumbar surgery, robotic spine surgery, disc arthroplasty, and more.

While it’s normal for our spines to change from natural wear and tear as we age, in some cases this degeneration in the spine can induce deformities that cause pinched nerves. Spinal stenosis is one of these complications, and it often leads to symptoms like pain, numbness, or heaviness in the legs and back. To understand spinal stenosis, it’s important to understand and the spine and how it works.

Anatomy of the Spine
Small bones called vertebrae stack on top of each other to create the spine, and they are held together by muscles, ligaments, and nerves. There’s a hollow space in the vertebrae called the spinal canal that surrounds the spinal cord, and stenosis is when the spinal canal narrows over time. Stenosis is most common in the lower section of the spine – the lumbar region – but it may also occur in the cervical or thoracic region of the spinal column.

Causes of Spinal Stenosis
The narrowing of the spinal canal is generally precipitated by arthritis or degenerative changes that cause the discs between vertebrae to wear away. Loss of cartilage removes the buffer between bones and the body may respond to bone-on-bone friction by increasing ligament size or producing new bone, resulting in deformation or overgrowth. These changes shrink the spinal canal, reducing area for the spinal cord and increasing pressure on the nerves coming off the spinal cord.

Symptoms of Stenosis
Pressure against spinal nerves can provoke back problems and sciatica. The degree of back pain that patients with stenosis experience depends on the severity of their arthritis. Because the spinal nerves deliver sensation to parts of our lower body, some stenosis patients feel pain in their buttocks and legs. It’s not uncommon for patients to report that they experience difficulty walking, the need to lean on devices, and feeling slowed down.

Treatment for Stenosis
Minimally invasive spine procedures have led a revolution in spine care with smaller incisions, less pain, and immediate mobility. Dr. Leipzig specializes in lumbar laminoplasty, a minimally invasive surgical technique utilized to remedy spinal stenosis. With modern technology and techniques, stenosis surgery has great outcomes and can return you to a pain-free life fairly quickly.

Spine degeneration and narrowing of the spinal canal is very common with age, but it doesn’t mean you need to live in pain. If you are experiencing any of the stenosis symptoms above or are concerned about spine problems, contact Dr. Leipzig at our spine care office today to schedule an appointment.

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"I enjoy interacting with patients and helping them understand their condition and treatment options. Spine problems and spinal surgery can be stressful. It’s an honor to be able to treat patients and guide them toward recovery."
James Leipzig, M.D., F.A.C.S.