Treating Lumbar Spinal Stenosis in New Jersey
The lower part of the spinal column, called the lumbar spine, contains five vertebrae connected by intervertebral discs and facet joints. Within this column of bone runs the spinal cord and nerves. In a healthy patient, the spinal column provides sufficient room for the spinal nerves. But damage to the spine can lead to a narrowing of the spinal canal, pinching the nerves because of insufficient space. This condition is called spinal stenosis. Spinal stenosis can happen in any part of the spine but is most common in the lumbar spine.
The medical staff at Centers for Neurosurgery, Spine & Orthopedics (CNSO), located in Northern New Jersey, diagnoses and treats conditions such as lumbar spinal stenosis. One of the available treatment options for lumbar spinal stenosis is the Vertiflex Procedure, a form of minimally invasive spine surgery.
Causes and Risk Factors
Most often, lumbar stenosis is caused by normal wear and tear on the joints as a person ages, leading to arthritis. Osteoarthritis is a common condition in older adults, causing degeneration and inflammation in the spinal column that can narrow the space in the spinal canal that nerves travel through. This increased pressure on the spinal nerves leads to pain in the legs and lower back. Lumbar spinal stenosis also can be caused by:
- Spinal injury: Fractures of the spine or disc herniations can lead to spinal stenosis. These can be caused by incidents such as injuries from contact sports or motor vehicle accidents.
- Spinal tumors: Even a small tumor can take up space in the spinal column and put pressure on the surrounding nerves.
- Rheumatoid arthritis: This condition can lead to joint inflammation and can damage the surrounding bones and ligaments.
Patients with a family history of spinal arthritis are at higher risk of developing spinal stenosis. Other risk factors include:
- Poor posture
- A sedentary lifestyle
- Physically demanding jobs that require repetitive bending and lifting
Most adults will develop some form of osteoarthritis as they age. However, patients can help decrease their risk of spinal stenosis by exercising regularly, maintaining a healthy weight, and practicing good posture.
Symptoms of Lumbar Spinal Stenosis
The symptoms of lumbar spinal stenosis can include:
- Lower back pain
- Feelings of numbness, weakness, or tingling in the legs
- Weakness and loss of sensation in the feet
- Pain that radiates down the legs
- Cramping in the legs while sitting
Back and leg pain associated with lumbar spinal stenosis can gradually increase over time. Some patients may find that their pain is worse when standing and that sitting or leaning forward reduces their pain.
Diagnosis and Conservative Treatment Options
Paired with a thorough physical examination and a review of the patient’s medical history, imaging tests such as an MRI, CT scan, or X-ray can help confirm a diagnosis of lumbar spinal stenosis. These tests can detect changes in the spinal vertebrae and disc degeneration, as well as check for conditions such as spinal tumors.
Physical therapy may help reduce symptoms of lumbar spinal stenosis by strengthening the muscles in a patient’s back and legs. A physical therapist also can direct a patient on how to correctly lift objects to prevent further back injury. Other conservative treatment options include anti-inflammatory oral medications and steroid injection treatments to reduce pain and swelling. Injection treatments can be performed at one of CNSO’s locations and take just a few minutes to complete.
Patients who do not respond to six months or more of conservative treatment and have moderate to severe lumbar spinal stenosis may benefit from the Vertiflex Procedure, a clinically proven and FDA-approved treatment method. The Vertiflex Procedure is a minimally invasive treatment method that places a small titanium alloy spacer on the lumbar spine. The spacer maintains space between vertebrae and eliminates pressure on the spinal nerves but does not damage surrounding bone or tissue. Patients may have one or two spacers implanted along the spine.
Clinical data shows that a majority of patients who undergo the Vertiflex Procedure experience a significant reduction in back and leg pain and are less likely to use opioid pain medication. The procedure offers a shorter recovery time and less surgical trauma than spinal fusion. The Vertiflex implant does not negatively affect the spine’s stability. And unlike traditional spinal fusion surgery, the Vertiflex Procedure preserves range of motion and allows for future surgical treatments if necessary.
CNSO’s experienced neurosurgeons can complete the Vertiflex Procedure in an outpatient setting. The procedure usually does not require general anesthesia, and most patients can go home the same day. Patients typically will have a follow-up visit one to two weeks after the procedure to have their surgical staples or stitches removed. Often, patients enjoy a significant reduction in pain during the first few days after surgery.
Patients will need to restrict their activities for about six weeks after the procedure and will need to take some time off from work. They will need to avoid strenuous exercise and limit significant bending and twisting of the spine. Patients also should avoid lifting any object heavier than 10 pounds. CNSO will provide patients with thorough aftercare instructions and will monitor their recovery.
Learn More About Lumbar Spinal Stenosis Treatment at CNSO
Serving patients at locations throughout Northern NJ, CNSO is dedicated to ensuring the best health outcomes for each individual. The award-winning team at CNSO includes board-certified surgeons, orthopedic specialists, and certified physical therapists, combining all aspects of spine care under one roof. CNSO’s medical team uses evidence-based practices and the latest tested innovations in medical technology to help treat lumbar spinal stenosis and other back and spine conditions. To learn more or schedule an appointment, contact CNSO today.