Moderate spinal stenosis is the intermediate stage of spinal stenosis — a category somewhere between mild and severe spinal stenosis. When you have moderate spinal stenosis, the symptoms are a constant reminder that your spinal canal is continuing to narrow in some areas, and as this occurs, you may have trouble standing up straight, walking for long distances or getting out of bed without considerable pain.
Perhaps a greater concern with spinal stenosis is the fact that it can be a progressive condition, so a person experiencing the symptoms of moderate spinal stenosis may eventually have to contend with the condition worsening into severe spinal stenosis. All cases of spinal stenosis, whether mild, moderate or severe, involve a narrowing of the spinal canal (which surrounds the spinal cord) and/or the foramina between spinal vertebrae (which surround nerve roots branching off the spinal cord).
This narrowing often occurs when bulging discs, herniated discs, inflamed ligaments or other tissues degenerate with age, and eventually, this deterioration can put pressure on nerve roots and the spinal cord. When nerve tissue is compressed in this way, the result is usually pain and discomfort in the neck, back and extremities.
Initially, with mild spinal stenosis, you may experience occasional lower back pain or on-and-off stiffness in your neck. However, you typically won’t be prevented from performing your daily tasks or engaging in most activities. Your doctor will likely prescribe medically conservative treatments, such as rest, pain medication and stretching, and your symptoms may go away.
Moderate spinal stenosis symptoms
If symptoms persist and become more intense, or if new symptoms develop even after you have carefully followed a treatment regimen, then your condition may likely be classified as moderate spinal stenosis.
In this case, symptoms can include:
Stiffness or numbness in the neck or back when you sit too long or upon rising the morning
Persistent pain or numbness that radiates down the shoulders and arms from the neck, or down the legs from the lower back
Restricted movement or flexibility that becomes worse with continued movement
Living with moderate spinal stenosis typically means that your activities are limited but not completely hampered by its symptoms. At this point, your doctor may try corticosteroid injections in your neck or back. These epidural steroid injections for spinal stenosis contain a powerful anti-inflammatory that helps reduce swelling and take pressure off nerves. This may be all that is needed to reduce or eliminate symptoms so that you can proceed with physical rehabilitation and regain your lifestyle.
Moderate spinal stenosis treatments
If injections and other nonsurgical therapies fail, and your pain and discomfort are unrelenting, your doctor may recommend open spine surgery. If your spinal stenosis is severe enough to warrant surgery, then consider USA Spine Care’s minimally invasive procedures, which are safer and effective alternatives to open spine surgery.^ Reach out to our dedicated team to find out if you are a candidate for our minimally invasive procedures, which are performed on an outpatient basis.
USA Spine Care is the leader in minimally invasive spine surgery and has helped more than 75,000 patients find relief from chronic neck or back pain. Our surgeons use a less than 1-inch incision and muscle-sparing techniques in order to alleviate symptoms while resulting in less bleeding and a lower risk of complication compared to traditional open back surgery.^ Contact us today and ask for a no-cost MRI review* to determine if our procedures would be effective in relieving your moderate spinal stenosis symptoms.
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.