Mild spinal stenosis can be thought of as the first stage of this condition — or the earliest indications of narrowing in the spinal column. Preliminary signs of spinal stenosis can show on X-rays before any symptoms are felt. This may occur if you were diagnosed for other symptoms in a part of the body close to the spine. If you have been diagnosed with spinal stenosis but you are not experiencing symptoms, or your symptoms are mild, it is important to take a proactive approach to treatment. Spinal stenosis can progress to a point where even the simplest activities — mowing the lawn, doing the dishes, playing with children or grandchildren — become painful and difficult.
The causes and symptoms of mild spinal stenosis
Spinal stenosis is a gradual disease caused by natural aging in most situations. Over time, degenerative conditions like arthritis of the spine or bulging and herniated discs can narrow the space in the spinal column. At first, many people don’t feel the effects of this narrowing, but as it progresses, it can interfere with the spinal cord and exiting nerve roots. This is when the first symptoms of mild spinal stenosis are felt, such as occasional local pain and radiating pain out to the arms or legs. These symptoms are uncomfortable, but typically do not get in the way of your normal daily activities at first.
Take control of your treatment
When milder cases of spinal stenosis are found early, treatment will almost always begin with conservative methods if symptoms are being experienced. Doctors may recommend:
Rest or reduced activity
Exercises to strengthen core muscles, especially the back
Low-impact aerobics, such as walking or swimming
As a progressive disease, spinal stenosis can be classified as mild, moderate or severe. Like many conditions, severity can be dependent on your individual tolerance for pain. One patient may characterize the lower back pain of spinal stenosis as mild, while another may call it moderate or even severe spinal stenosis.
Sometimes if a full course of these treatments is not effective — or if your pain worsens — then your condition could then be classified as moderate spinal stenosis. At this point, more aggressive nonsurgical treatments, like epidural steroid injections and prescription medications, may be recommended. Surgery is usually only considered when weeks or months of more conservative treatments have not brought a return to full activity or relief from pain.
For some patients, spinal stenosis progresses to the point where the simplest daily tasks are limited because of intense pain and muscle weakness. If this sounds like your situation, then it’s time to contact USA Spine Care to learn more about the benefits of minimally invasive spine surgery. Our procedures offer an alternative to traditional open neck or back surgery that offers our patients a shorter recovery time^ and less risk of complication.
Our dedicated team will help you receive a no-cost review of your MRI or CT scan* to help you find out if you are a candidate for one of our procedures.
Learn more today
If you're living with spinal stenosis in the upper spine and searching for relief, reach out to USA Spine Care for help. Our multidisciplinary team is dedicated to helping people develop the right care plan to reach treatment goals and achieve lasting relief.
Patients can expect recovery to last 4-6 weeks in most cases (depending on the complexity of your condition). People who choose minimally invasive spine surgery recover faster and get back to work sooner than those who choose open back surgery. Read more in the links below: Recovery After a ProcedureWhat to ExpectRecovery Times
Problems from anesthesia.
A deep infection in the surgical wound.
A skin infection.
Nerve injury, including weakness, numbness, or paralysis.
Tears in the fibrous tissue that covers the spinal cord and the nerve near the spinal cord. These tears may require more surgery.
Trouble passing urine, or loss of bladder or bowel control.
Long-term (chronic) pain, which happens after surgery in some cases.
The chance that the surgery won't relieve your symptoms. And even if you get better with surgery, there is a chance that you may get new symptoms in the future.
Death from problems caused by surgery, but this is rare.
^Results are typical, but not guaranteed, each patients experience with spine surgery will differ.
For more information, visit usaspinecare.com/results. The information contained on this website is for educational purposes only, and is not intended to serve as a replacement for a medical diagnosis.
*Our MRI review is an informational review of the MRI report that you provide to us and is not a form of diagnosis. A diagnosis and a final determination of whether you may benefit from treatment at USA Spine Care can only be made after you have been physically examined by our medical professionals at USA Spine Care. The MRI review has no value and will not be billed.