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Diagnosing and Treating Narrowing of the Spine

Spine Surgery | Princeton Neurological Surgery | Hamilton NJ Spinal stenosis can lead to a number of uncomfortable symptoms. This is because the spinal column must have space at every level through which nerve roots can run through small openings. If the space in between any two spinal vertebra decreases, the nerve root at this level will be compressed. Depending on the degree of compression, symptoms may range from mild to debilitating. Here, we observe the causes of spinal narrowing and how we may improve comfort with appropriate care.

There are several reasons why narrowing of the space in between discs, also referred to as the foraminal space, may occur. Often, stenosis occurs as the body ages. Additional factors related to narrowed foraminal spaces include bone spurs and herniated or bulging discs. A slipped vertebrae or trauma to the back may also be a precursor to changes in the foraminal space.

A thorough spinal examination can evaluate symptoms such as:

  • Numbness or tingling
  • Localized pain at any segment of the spine
  • Pain that radiates along a nerve pathway
  • Muscle weakness

Treating Stenosis of the Foraminal Space

The primary objective in treating spinal stenosis is to widen the space through which nerve roots travel. Nerve decompression is critical to the reduction of uncomfortable symptoms. Secondarily, treatment for stenosis seeks to prevent further compression. If possible, Dr. Lipani aims to achieve both objectives during a single procedure.

The way in which we treat stenosis must correlate with the reason for narrowing. For some patients, physical therapy exercises provide sufficient relief and prevention. However, surgical techniques may be necessary when the underlying cause of stenosis relates to an abnormality or injury to the spine. For example, it may be necessary to repair a herniated disc in order to restore sufficient space between two vertebrae.

Obtain the Care You Need for Spinal Stenosis

Treatment options usually lean to the conservative side when correcting spinal stenosis. Surgery is considered only if the narrowing is severe or when traditional modalities like physical therapy and medications do not achieve the desired level of improvement.

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