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Mild spinal stenosis — overview and treatment

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
  • Over-the-counter medication
  • Hot/cold therapy
  • Massage
  • 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.

Contact us today to learn more. Call toll free 1-866-249-1627.

Spinal Stenosis "Quick Answers"

Depending on the region and severity Spinal stenosis feels like tingling, burning and/or weakness in the hands, arms, neck, lower back or legs. It may also feel like a radiating pain or shooting shock-like pain. Read more in the links below: Spinal Stenosis Spinal Stenosis Overview Defining Spinal Stenosis Researching Spinal Stenosis Learning About Back Stenosis Spinal Stenosis Pathophysiology
The types of spinal stenosis are region based and consist of cervical (neck), thoracic (mid back) and lumbar or lower back. In addition, foraminal stenosis is the narrowing of the foramen. Read more in the links below: Spinal Stenosis of the Neck Cervical Stenosis - Basic Facts Neck Stenosis Causes Neck Stenosis Treatment Central Canal Stenosis Lumbar Spinal Stenosis Spinal Stenosis in the Back
Spinal Stenosis is the narrowing of the spinal canal. This condition, most often located in the Lumbar spine, may be caused by degeneration of the spine, wear and tear, sports injury, & collapsing discs. Read more in the links below. What Causes Spinal Stenosis? Obesity May Lead to a Stenosis Diagnosis Age and its Role in the Development of Spinal Stenosis Spinal Stenosis Causes Identifying Common Causes From Birth Defects to Getting Older Degenerative Conditions Car Accident Injuries
The symptoms of spinal stenosis include tingling or numbness in the extremities, pain and weakness in the neck, back and/or legs. In severe cases bladder, bowel dysfunction/continence. Learn more in the links below: What Are the Symptoms of Spinal Stenosis? Spinal Stenosis Symptoms Spinal Stenosis Diagnosis What Should I Do If I Think I Have Spinal Stenosis? Spinal Stenosis and Hand Pain Recognizing Spinal Stenosis Have You Been Diagnosed? About Your Diagnosis Diagnostic Process Helping Your Physician How a Diagnosis Is Made Arriving at a Diagnosis
Physician specialties that treat spinal stenosis include: Pain management & rehabilitation physicians, spine surgeons, orthopedic specialists & neurosurgeons. Read more about these specialties in the links below: Doctors Who Treat Spinal Stenosis Spinal Decompression Doctors
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 Procedure What to Expect Recovery Times

  • Problems from anesthesia.
  • A deep infection in the surgical wound.
  • A skin infection.
  • Blood clots.
  • 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.

Read more in the links below: Overview of Risk Factors Most Common Risk Factors Obesity & Spinal Stenosis Spinal Stenosis & Arthritis Treating Elderly Patients

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