Spinal Stenosis Surgery in Northern New Jersey
pinal stenosis is a narrowing of the space within the bones of the spine that can put pressure on adjacent nerves. It is most common among adults over 50 and often can be managed with exercise and over-the-counter medication. For patients with more severe spinal stenosis, spine surgery can provide significant pain relief. Centers for Neurosurgery, Spine & Orthopedics, located in Northern New Jersey, offers treatment options for patients with a wide range of spine conditions.
What Causes Spinal Stenosis?
Most often, spinal stenosis is caused by normal wear and tear to the spine related to osteoarthritis. As a person ages, the cartilage in their joints begins to break down, causing bones to rub against each other. In response, the body grows new bone cells, which can push into the spinal canal, narrowing the available space for nerves. Bulging or herniated discs also can compress the nerves in the spine. Other causes of spinal stenosis include:
- Spinal fractures or injuries
- Paget’s disease
- Spinal tumors or cysts
For some patients, spinal stenosis is minor, and symptoms are not noticeable. Patients with more acute spinal stenosis may experience symptoms such as:
- Back or neck pain
- Difficulty staying balanced
- Numbness, tingling feelings, or weakness in their arms or legs
- Leg cramps after sitting or walking for long periods
- Bowel or bladder dysfunction
Stenosis can occur in the neck (known as cervical spinal stenosis) or back (lumbar spinal stenosis). Risk factors for developing spinal stenosis include:
- Prior spinal trauma: Previous injuries to the back, neck, or spine can damage cartilage, increasing a patient’s risk for spinal stenosis.
- Age: Patients over the age of 50 are more likely to develop spinal stenosis as arthritis progresses.
- Sex: Women are more likely than men to develop spinal stenosis.
While most adults will develop arthritis as they age, practicing good posture and exercising regularly can help reduce the risk of spinal stenosis.
Diagnosis and Conservative Treatment Options
Both cervical and lumbar spinal stenosis can be diagnosed with imaging tests. In addition to completing a physical examination and reviewing a patient’s symptoms, a physician may use:
- X-ray imaging
- Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)
- Computerized tomography (CT)
These tests can reveal the narrowing of the spinal canal and the cause such as growth of bone spurs, damage to spinal discs, or other issues such as spinal tumors.
Before surgery is used to treat spinal stenosis, conservative treatment options are recommended to manage symptoms if the stenosis is mild to moderate. Severe stenosis requires immediate surgery. These conservative treatments include:
- Physical therapy: Structured physical therapy can help patients improve their balance, build up strength in the muscles surrounding the spine, and maintain spinal stability.
- Injection treatments: An epidural steroid injection can reduce inflammation caused by compressed, irritated nerves.
- Oral medication: Over-the-counter or prescription medications can help relieve pain and manage symptoms.
Surgical Options for Spinal Stenosis
A minority of patients will require surgery to treat symptoms and maintain normal spinal function. The surgeons at CNSO are experienced in treating spinal stenosis with procedures including laminectomy, fusion, or placing interspinous spacers.
A laminectomy is a surgical procedure in which a doctor removes a portion of bony overgrowth on the lamina, the arch that sticks out from the back of the vertebrae. By removing a tiny portion of bone, the surgeon creates space within the spinal canal that relieves pressure on the spinal cord.
This procedure is generally performed using anesthesia and requires a short hospital stay. After surgery, patients should avoid strenuous activities and will need to take some time off from work. Physical therapy is often recommended after a laminectomy to maintain flexibility and strengthen the muscles around the spine.
Patients with severe lumbar spinal stenosis may qualify for the Vertiflex Procedure. In this minimally invasive surgery, a doctor places a small implant in the spine that maintains space between the vertebrae, thereby eliminating pressure on the spinal nerves. The procedure is effective at eliminating the lower back and leg pain associated with lumbar spinal stenosis.
Vertiflex can be performed as outpatient surgery, and most patients can go home the same day. After surgery, patients will need to avoid twisting the spine and lifting heavy objects until their recovery is complete. Unlike traditional fusion surgery, the procedure preserves a patient’s full range of motion.
Spinal fusion is recommended only for patients with severe, radiating nerve pain and spinal instability. The goal is to restore the spine’s correct anatomical alignment and allow the patient to move without pain. After making an incision, the surgeon will remove diseased bone or tissue and realign the vertebrae. They may need to perform a bone graft or implant a prosthetic to maintain the spine’s alignment. They also will use stabilization hardware to ensure the bones are held in the correct position and to encourage new bone growth.
There are several types of fusion surgery, including:
- Anterior cervical discectomy and fusion (ACDF)
- Anterior lumbar interbody fusion (ALIF)
- Transforaminal lumbar interbody fusion (TLIF)
- Robotic surgery
Patients typically begin rehabilitation and physical therapy about two to six weeks after surgery. Many patients can resume daily activities after twelve weeks. However, they will need to avoid heavy lifting and excessive bending and twisting for six months or more. The healing process after fusion surgery can take up to a year.
Choose CNSO for Spinal Stenosis Treatment
Patients will find compassionate care paired with the latest innovations in spine surgery at CNSO. Staffed by a team of neurosurgeons, orthopedic spine surgeons, physiatrists, and physical therapists, CNSO takes a holistic approach to patient-centered care, working collaboratively to find the best solutions. With multiple convenient locations, CNSO serves patients throughout Northern New Jersey and the surrounding area. To learn more about treatment options for spinal stenosis and other back and spine conditions, contact CNSO today.