Understanding the problem
Spinal narrowing, also known as spinal stenosis, is a condition in which the spinal canal, the space through which the spinal cord travels, becomes smaller.
The narrowing of the spinal canal is one of the most common spine conditions. The spinal canal allows room for the spinal cord to run through without impacted surrounding nerves. However, when the spinal canal begins to narrow, the spinal cord begins to compress the surrounding nerves, resulting in both local and radiating pain.
Understanding who suffers
Spinal narrowing can result from injury to the spine, overuse of the neck and back, an inherited condition, or from age-related degeneration of components of the spinal anatomy. A number of anatomical abnormalities can reduce the size of the spinal canal that encases the spinal cord, or of the openings (known as intervertebral foramina) that allow nerve roots to exit the spinal column. Conditions that can crowd spaces in the spine include bone spurs formed because of osteoarthritis, degenerative disc disease, adult scoliosis, spondylolisthesis.
Although a neck or back injury can lead to spinal stenosis in people of any age, most spinal narrowing can be found in people who are middle-aged or older. This is because, over the years the spinal anatomy is subjected to a wide range of stress-inducing movement, including bending, twisting and turning. It is these movements that can partially contribute to the anatomical elements in the spine naturally degenerating as an individual ages. The vertebrae, intervertebral discs, ligaments, muscles and joints of the spine naturally begin to wear down and compress, and abnormalities such as bone spurs, herniated discs and ossified ligaments are fairly common results. This natural spinal deterioration tends to contribute directly to the narrowing of the spinal column.
Approximately 250,000-500,000 US residents have symptoms of spinal stenosis. This represents about 1 per 1000 persons older than 65 years and about 5 of every 1000 persons older than 50 years. About 70 million Americans are older than 50 years, and this number is estimated to grow by 18 million in the next decade alone, suggesting that the prevalence of spinal stenosis will increase. Lumbar spinal stenosis (LSS) remains the leading preoperative diagnosis for adults older than 65 years who undergo spine surgery.
Potential Signs and Symptoms
Spinal narrowing doesn’t always produce symptoms. In fact, unless the spinal canal becomes so narrow that it starts to compress the spinal cord (or one of the nerves or nerve roots that branches out of it), the narrowing can go undetected for years.
However, if the spinal canal narrows to the point of spinal cord or nerve root impingement, a person might experience one or more of the following symptoms:
- Localized pain (for instance, if the impingement is occurring in the cervical spine, pain might be felt in the neck; if it is occurring in the thoracic spine, pain might be felt in the central back or torso; if it is occurring in the lumbar spine, pain might be felt in the lower back)
- Pain that travels along the affected nerve (nerves in the cervical spine branch out through the shoulders and arms, while nerves in the lumbar spine branch down through the hips, legs and feet)
- Numbness or tingling in the extremities
- Muscle weakness
- Sciatica (radiating leg pain, numbness and weakness) that occurs only if spinal narrowing causes compression of the sciatic nerve
Examinations Usually Required
Physicians may order an MRI test or CT scan to accurately assess the damage in the spine and determine the best course of action to fit a patient's needs and lifestyle.
Reputable and Prestigious Surgeons
AIMIS' skilled team of neurosurgeons, orthopaedic surgeons and ancillary professionals has one of the leading experiences in the world for minimally invasive spine surgery. Our full team are consulted with each case to find the most suitable experienced doctor for the patient’s exact issue, to ensure the maximum potential outcome of treatment
Getting More Information Before Moving Forward
You may have questions like:
- Can I get more information before I commit to this?
- Can I get a second opinion from you before I commit to this?
- How can I find out the cost before I have any obligation?
What AIMIS Can do:
AIMIS will provide a full review, diagnosis and potential surgical options for your condition, after receiving the relevant examinations and information from you. They will also provide an estimate for your surgical procedure before you decide. AIMIS’s mission is to the provision of “true” healthcare for those who require it. It provides world leading surgeons using state of the art procedures to optimize potential surgical outcomes, whilst taking care of all arrangements so as to allow concentration on recovery.
AIMIS provide competitive prices for state of the art procedures. We also work with a large range of Insurance companies where your policy allows you to have surgery abroad.
Further information on the problem:
Spinal narrowing can occur at any level of the spine, but is most common within the cervical (neck) and lumbar (lower back) regions. These two areas are more susceptible to degeneration because their relative flexibility allows for a wide range of stress-inducing bending, twisting, and turning. Repetitive movement over the years can take a toll on the vertebrae, intervertebral discs, ligaments, and other anatomical components of the upper and lower spine. Osteoarthritis can produce bone spurs. Degenerative disc disease can produce herniated or bulging discs. Deteriorating cartilage can rob joints of their ability to articulate smoothly. Any of these conditions can contribute to the different types of spinal narrowing, which include:
- Congenital — an inherited condition such as scoliosis
- Spinal canal — a reduction in space available in the passageway through which the spinal cord passes
- Foraminal — a reduction in space available for passageways of the nerve roots
- Cervical — spinal stenosis within the neck region
- Thoracic — spinal stenosis within the middle back region
- Lumbar — spinal stenosis within the lower back region
Further Information on Increased Risk Groups
The following are the most common risk factors for spinal narrowing:
- Age. Those over the age of 40 are at greater risk of developing spinal stenosis because of degenerative spine conditions like herniated discs, bulging discs, bone spurs or spondylolisthesis.
- Gender. While stenosis itself generally affects males and females equally, post-menopausal women are more susceptible to vertebral deterioration due to osteoporosis.
- Congenital conditions. Some individuals are born with spinal canals that are abnormally narrow. Conditions like scoliosis, lordosis or kyphosis can also increase the risk of stenosis.
- Previous spine surgery. If you have undergone a previous surgery on your neck or back, the risks of scar tissue, failed back surgery syndrome or a malformed fusion can potentially contribute to spinal narrowing.
- Infections, diseases or tumors. Inflammatory diseases like rheumatoid arthritis, tumescent growths or infections, like spinal meningitis, are rare risk factors.
- Obesity - excess body weight places more stress on the spine, which can lead to instability and tissue damage.
- Smoking - ingredients in cigarette smoke can break down tissues in the spine.
Why AIMIS for this Surgery
AIMIS strives for excellence in delivering the best surgical outcomes, via the extensive expertise of its prestige surgeons, its technologies, its highly trained staff and superior facilities to provide an individualized and compassionate experience in a comfortable environment. All patients are treated with the individual care they deserve in an effort to provide the best chance of successful treatment.
Other Services Provided by AIMIS
In addition to its Innovative Healthcare, AIMIS provides seamless service along the way. From the start of your journey you'll know the best flights to take, where you'll be staying, what paperwork you will need. You will have a personal assistant assigned; from your pick up at the airport, to your accommodation, continuous assistance at your pre-consultation, through surgery and in your postsurgical care. Our Patients have said that they feel they have become "part of our family" and some even asked to stay a little longer! AIMIS is here to assist you in an all you requirements, allowing you to focus on your health and recovery.