What is Spinal Stenosis, and how can it be treated?
Medically speaking, stenosis means the narrowing of a body channel. When coupled with the word “spinal” what we’re talking about here is the narrowing of the bone channel where your spinal nerves, or spinal cord, resides.
Some people are born with this affliction. However, a majority of people who suffer from spinal stenosis develop it over time.
It’s not uncommon for patients not to feel any ill effects due to the narrowing for some time. However, as we age, the effects of spinal stenosis become more pronounced and, often times, unbearable.
Radiating pain. Weakness. Numbness. Limited walking due to pain.
There are just some of the effects of spinal stenosis. And while the narrowing can occur at different parts of the spine, which we’ll discuss in a moment, the symptoms of this nerve compression are typically similar.
That’s why the specialists here at Southern Pain and Neurological can, and will, perform specific testing to determine the cause, and location, of the narrowing.
The two most common types of spinal stenosis
Lumbar spinal stenosis
The lower back developers lumbar stenosis. In lumbar stenosis, the spinal nerve roots located in the lower back are compressed. This, in turn, can create symptoms of sciatica, or weakness and numbness that radiates from the lower back into the buttocks and legs.
Lumbar spinal stenosis can cause leg pain while walking. Often, this pain goes away while sitting.
This type of stenosis is located in the neck. This type of spinal cord compression can lead to serious health issues such as extreme weakness, diffculty walking, or, on occasion, paralysis.
Patients who develop signs of spinal cord compression, due to cervical stenosis, may need more invasive treatment methods, including surgery.
How we use epidural steroid injections to treat spinal stenosis in New Orleans
An epidural steroid injection (ESI) is a combination of a corticosteroid with a local anesthetic pain relief medicine.
This combination injection relieves swelling and inflammation, which then takes pressure off nerves and other soft tissues and can relieve pain over the long-term. Meanwhile, the anesthetic medicine provides immediate pain relief.
For patients suffering from spinal stenosis symptoms, we first conduct a few tests to confirm the diagnosis.
Then, after consultations to ensure that other non-surgical treatments have been attempted without much success, our team will inject an ESI into the space around the spinal cord and nerve roots, known as the epidural space. Leading up to the injection, we’ll perform imaging tests (such as an MRI) to identify the exact location where the nerve roots are being squeezed.
Then, during the injection, we’ll use a fluoroscope to guide the placement of the needle.
The effectiveness of epidural steroid injections in reducing pain
Steroid injections can relieve pain for short periods of time (2-3 weeks). We recommend our patients schedule a follow-up visit 2 to 3 weeks after the initial procedure, to determine if further treatment is needed.
Often, we perform these injections up to three times a year, which then delivers the best, and most long-term results.
This treatment method is one of the most effective, and least invasive treatments for spinal stenosis. However, it’s not right for everyone.
If you, or someone you know, suffers from chronic pain that resembles spinal stenosis, the first step is to schedule a consultation.
Our team will work closely with you to determine the root cause of your pain. We’ll then develop a treatment plan so that you can regain the quality of life you deserve.