An estimated 31 million Americans suffer from back pain at any given time.
It is no surprise, then, that lower back pain is the leading cause for missed work and disability claims among employed individuals across the country.
While the causes of back pain varies greatly, one of the common origins of discomfort in the back is spinal stenosis, or the narrowing of the spinal column in adults. If you suffer from back pain, it may be beneficial to understand what is spinal stenosis, what causes spinal stenosis and what types of spinal stenosis pain relief may be available to you.
What is Spinal Stenosis?
Spinal stenosis is a condition of the spinal cord and nerve roots located in the spine caused by narrowing. When these components of the spine are compressed, individuals experience a pinching of the spinal cord or nerve roots which can lead to immense pain in and around the back, legs, neck or shoulders.
What Causes Spinal Stenosis?
What causes spinal stenosis can be a difficult question to answer, but for most causes of spinal stenosis can be linked to the following:
- Congenital spinal stenosis – when an individual is born with an especially narrow spinal canal, they are said to have congenital spinal stenosis. This can lead to further narrowing over time, leading to pain and discomfort.
- Trauma – Injuries or accidents can cause damage to the spinal column that may contribute to the narrowing of the spinal column. This can be especially true if the person already is susceptible to spinal stenosis.
- Aging – the most common cause of spinal stenosis is the natural aging process. Over time, ligaments in the body thicken and cushioning between vertebrae may deteriorate. Each of these factors cause the spine to narrow, leading to lumbar spinal stenosis.
- Arthritis – both osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis can cause narrowing of the spine and lumbar spinal stenosis, leading to spinal stenosis pain.
- Tumor – Growths that are abnormal often affect the spinal canal directly. Inflammation or tissue growth can lead to bone loss that changes the support otherwise provided by the spinal canal.
Spinal Stenosis Symptoms
Most often, individuals experience pain in the back, legs, arms or shoulders as spinal stenosis symptoms. Additionally, individuals may also encounter clumsiness or frequent falling, difficulty walking, or tingling in the legs.
Some additional symptoms of spinal stenosis may include numbness of the limbs, hot or cold feelings in the legs, or problems with their feet.
Who is at Risk?
While any individual could suffer from spinal stenosis, some are more at risk than others. Those born with a narrow spine are more likely to experience further narrowing as they age.
Additionally, women and those 50 years and older are more apt to experience symptoms of spinal stenosis.
Finally, those with previous injuries to the back or spine have a higher chance of having the spinal canal narrow over time.
Spinal Stenosis Pain Relief
If you suffer from spinal stenosis, there are methods to relieve pain associated with symptoms. Simple lifestyle changes such as a change in posture can have a positive impact on how much discomfort you experience over time.
Additionally, rest in between light activities or exercise is important in keeping your back healthy. Oftentimes, steroids can help relieve the pain associated with spinal stenosis, by not only softening the spine ligaments but also through reducing inflammation and swelling.
Regardless of the cause of your condition, spinal stenosis treatment is most effective when it is discussed with a spinal health professional first. At Silver State Spine Care, we understand how painful spinal stenosis can be, and we work with our patients to help them understand each of their non-surgical options for spinal stenosis treatment.
Contact us today to discuss your spine care needs, and to get assistance with managing your spinal stenosis.
It is common to experience lower back or leg pain at some point in your life, but the causes can vary greatly from individual to individual. In some cases, this pain is referred to as sciatica – a general term for the collective symptoms of another underlying cause. Sciatica often is meant to describe the leg and lower back pain that could be accompanied by tingling, numbness or weakness, all attached to the sciatic nerve. However, sciatica is not by itself a medical diagnosis, but rather a collection of symptoms.
While each individual can have a different experience with sciatica nerve pain, there are commonalities that present. For some individuals, constant pain in one leg or side of the buttock that intensifies when sitting is often the first sign of sciatica symptoms, while leg pain that is described as burning or pulsing can also describe sciatic nerve pain. Similarly, individuals may feel weakness of the foot or leg, made evident by an inability to move it with ease. Sciatica pain can also make it challenging to sit, stand or walk without intense, pulsing discomfort. Sciatica pain is caused by an underlying condition, one of the most common being a herniated disc or slipped disc.
- Pain occurs when sitting or standing for a prolonged period of time
- Pain is made worse when laughing, coughing, bowel movements and sneezing
- Feeling a weakness in their leg or foot may occur, as well as the inability to move it
Symptoms of a Herniated Disc
The vertebrae in the spinal cord are cushioned by discs meant to protect bones from the shock of daily activity. Symptoms of a herniated disc, also known as a slipped disc or ruptured disc, are similar to those of sciatica and can include tingling, aching or burning in the lower back or leg. Herniated disc symptoms also present through pain and numbness targeted on one side of the body, or pain that extends to an arm or leg. Similar to sciatic nerve pain, herniated disc symptoms include pain caused by a ruptured disc that is worse when an individual stands or sits, or when walking for long distances.
- Muscle numbness and tingling
- Burning sensations
- Aching of the lower back and leg
- Weak handgrip strength
How to Treat Sciatic Nerve Pain
While treating sciatica is not identical for all patients, there are a number methods available on how to treat sciatic nerve pain that do not include surgery. For most individuals wondering how to how to treat sciatica, regular exercise is often the first step. It can go a long way in reliving long-term pain and discomfort. However, when treating sciatica through regular exercise is not efficient, severe cases may require a more structured approach. Treating sciatica could include a regimen of heat and ice, pain medications or epidural injections.
How to Treat a Herniated Disc
Treatment for a herniated disc may be similar to treatment of sciatic nerve pain, but will depend greatly on the severity of the disc damage. Treating a herniated disc typically begins with pain medication, while cold therapy can also be used treatment for a herniated disc. Medications used in herniated disc treatment are anti-inflammatory in nature, meant to reduce swelling, or can be a muscle relaxant or pain killer to reduce acute pain. Herniated disc treatment options may also include spinal injections or physical therapy, the latter designed to decrease pain while increasing flexibility.
Herniated disc treatment options and sciatica treatment options best prescribed by a medical professional with ample experience in non-surgical treatments. If you are wondering how to treat a herniated disc and the sciatica pain that comes with it, contact Silver State Spine Care to speak with a spine specialist about your options for non-surgical treatment, today.
After a rear collision car accident, one of the most common outcomes is a passenger or driver that experiences
whiplash and resulting severe neck pain or spine pain. Those involved in a car crash where the vehicle is stationary may be thrown forward, causing the head and neck to extend in an unnatural manner and then snap back quickly. This results in symptoms associated with whiplash that can range from moderate to severe, most commonly neck pain. The most common symptoms include stiffness of the neck and shoulders as well as constant pain. Headaches may also be a symptom of whiplash, as well as spine pain that radiates throughout the back. Although whiplash that takes place during a car accident is not a life threatening injury, it is typically necessary to see a spine specialist after the whiplash neck injury occurs to ensure major issues are not present and that neck pain from a car accident is remedied.
More Severe Symptoms of Whiplash
In some cases, individuals who have been involved in a car crash will not experience symptoms of whiplash immediately. Instead, days or weeks can go by before there are any signs that whiplash occurred or neck pain that presents some cause for concern. In addition to neck pain and spine pain, car accident victims can experience symptoms of whiplash neck injury that are far more severe, including fatigue, dizziness, jaw and arm pain as well as visual disturbances. Because these symptoms can mean a greater issue is at play than whiplash alone, it is important for car crash victims experiencing these symptoms in addition to neck pain to visit a spine specialist shortly after the car accident takes place. When whiplash is not treated correctly, individuals can develop more chronic symptoms including depression and anxiety, stress, sleep disturbance and the potential drug dependency.
In order to reduce the potential for more severe whiplash symptoms and chronic neck pain, car accident victims can visit Silver State Spine Care to discuss diagnosis and non-invasive treatment options with a spine specialist who is well versed in whiplash neck injury. For most patients, treatment can be as simple as a combination of pain medication and the use of a firm, supporting pillow. For others, neck pain from a car accident may be reduced through physiotherapy treatments including traction or manipulation, as well as heat regimens. Victims of car accidents should speak with a spine specialist to ensure whiplash is the correct diagnosis and the right treatment plan is set in motion to avoid more severe symptoms.
Contact us today to learn more.
Lower Back Pain is More Common than you Think
The majority of adults will experience some degree of lower back pain during their lifetime, most without fully understanding its cause. While most minor back pain will subside after six to eight weeks, those who struggle with lower back pain discomfort for an extended period of time may need to seek the help of a professional in order to receive treatment and long-term spine care. It is becoming more common for individuals struggling with lower back pain to find a professional such as a chiropractor or medical doctor focused on providing non-surgical spine care as a less invasive way to manage back pain. Before deciding on a spine care treatment program, it is important for patients to understand the differences that exist between various spine care providers and the options for surgical and non-invasive treatments.
Most individuals trying to manage back pain will visit a chiropractor prior to seeking out diagnosis and subsequent treatment from other medical professionals. A chiropractor focuses on manipulation of the spine to reduce the discomfort of lower back pain, based on the relationship that exists between the spine and the nervous system. Through continuous, usually long-term chiropractic appointments, patients are assisted in establishing normal spine function and mobility through repetitive adjustment. This treatment regimen may work to temporarily ease back pain for some, but chiropractors will often refer patients to a medical doctor for holistic treatment.
A Specialized Approach
Professionals working in the field of physical medicine and rehabilitation, or physiatry, diagnose and treat patients suffering from back pain in a different manner than chiropractors. PMR specialists are medical doctors with extensive training who focus more on whole body health and spine care through physical therapy and other non-surgical spine care options. Specifically, PMR doctors take ample time to diagnose the underlying cause of lower back pain through analysis of a patient’s medical record, a complete physical exam and diagnostic testing such as X-rays or MRI scans when necessary. Once the cause is determined, PMR specialists as medical doctors can prescribe medicine to ease back pain, may recommend spine care exercises or physical therapy regimens, or may suggest icing or heat therapy at home. Additionally, PMR doctors may also provide patients suffering from intense pain injections for treatment into ligaments, joints and muscles, including epidural or facet joint injections. Each of these treatment options are in an effort to rehabilitate a patient and promote spine care health without the need for invasive surgery.
Both chiropractors and PMR doctors are focused on bringing patients back to a place of comfort through non-surgical spine care. While chiropractors offer patients temporary pain relief through spinal manipulation, PMR doctors are more focused on holistic healing and long-term spine care. Each can be a viable alternative to invasive surgery, however, and may be the next step in your return to spinal health.
Epidurals Can Help Ease Neck or Back Pain
Let us help you ease your pain. Our doctors are specialists in non-operative medical treatments for back pain, neck pain and carpal tunnel syndrome. Our goal is to help you feel like yourself again! We helped one of our patients who was suffering from back pain after shoveling snow. The pain was radiating down his right leg so he was sent in for an MRI which showed that the pain was due to a disc herniation at the lowest disc level. Because there was a disc herniation, we recommended an epidural to help the disc heal.
What is Sciatica Pain?
Epidurals are done by injecting steroid medications directly into the epidural space (the space surrounding the nerves within the spinal canal), typically to ease sciatica pain. Sciatica pain is also known as disc pain or radiating leg-pain. Acute sciatica is described as low back pain that extends below the knee for six weeks or less. These are both often caused by nerve irritation from discs in the lower back.
Epidurals for Back Pain Resolution
Once we explained how the epidural works and how it would help, our patient became comfortable with it and agreed to the procedure. Using X-ray guidance, his epidural was completed at the location where the MRI indicated his disc problem was. The procedure only took about five minutes and he reported an improved condition within the same day.
After the procedure, he completed physical therapy to strengthen his back and improve body mechanics to prevent future symptoms. He also bought a snow blower so he’ll be ready next time a winter storm hits. If you’re experiencing pain and looking for a neck or back specialist in Reno, call us today to schedule an appointment and let’s start working on getting you better!
Key Features of Using Epidurals for Back Pain Relief:
- Anesthetic confirms the pain is from the epidural area.
- Steroids block inflammation from returning to the area.
- Placing the solution flushes inflammation out of the area.
- X-ray helps precisely place the solution in the correct location.
- Blocking inflammation:
- Allows you to be more active.
- Gives your body a chance to heal.
- Allows physical therapy and chiropractic care to be more effective.