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Is Spinal Stenosis the Cause of Your Back Pain?

Your spine is an integral but complicated part of your anatomy. Not only does it allow you to bend, flex, twist, and stand upright, it does all that while housing a network of nerves responsible for helping the rest of your body feel and function. It’s no surprise, then, that back pain plagues up to 80% of people at some point in their lives. 

So what’s causing all that pain? The answer is also complicated, and it involves multiple variables. Back pain can occur anywhere along the spine from the neck to the tailbone and could be caused by disease, injury, disc degeneration, nerve damage. arthritis, and congenital issues. 

Diagnosing the exact source of your back pain takes a trained specialist like Dr. Wade McKenna at McKenna Orthopedics & Biologics. He identifies the underlying cause of your discomfort and immobility so he can treat it at the source, rather than simply addressing your symptoms. If you’re suffering from chronic lower back pain, one of the possible causes is spinal stenosis. 

Spinal stenosis 101

Your spine is a column of bones called vertebrae that form joints in a stacked formation. Running through the center of that column, a system of nerves travels from your spine to other parts of your body, transmitting messages from your brain, including the commands to move your legs so you can walk, as well as sensory information, like: this feels soft, or that flame is hot.

If and when something affects those nerves, it also affects your sensory and motor skills and often causes pain. Spinal stenosis is one of those conditions.

Spinal stenosis occurs when your spinal column narrows for some reason and puts pressure on the nerves in the area. In addition to pain, you may feel numbness or weakness in your bottom, your legs, or your arms, especially when standing up or walking.

Potential causes of spinal stenosis

The natural aging process can be blamed for the majority of spinal stenosis cases. In fact, up to 500,000 Americans are dealing with some degree of spinal stenosis, representing 1 in every 1,000 over the age of 65, and 5 in 1,000 over the age of 50. 

So what’s the age connection? As you get older, your body changes. Some parts deteriorate, others tend to grow. Both of these are a problem if they happen in your spine. Age-related spinal stenosis includes thickened tissues and enlarged vertebral bones that close in on the nerves in your spinal column. Degenerating discs can do the same thing.

Osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis are also common culprits, as the inflammation inherent with these conditions also compresses nerves.

Less common — but clear — contributors to spinal stenosis are:

Dr. McKenna arrives at an accurate diagnosis by performing several tests, depending on your symptoms. These might include X-rays, an MRI, a CT scan, an electromyelogram (to check for nerve function and damage) and/or a bone scan.

Treating spinal stenosis

The treatment Dr. McKenna recommends depends largely on the reason you have spinal stenosis. 

In some cases, a conservative approach is very effective, including over-the-counter anti-inflammatories, such as ibuprofen, and physical therapy, which may strengthen your supporting structures and increase flexibility and mobility.

Corticosteroid injections may be an option to reduce swelling and pain.

But if your spinal stenosis is causing chronic pain that won’t respond to traditional measures, Dr. McKenna may recommend nonsurgical regenerative medicine. 

Specifically, Dr. McKenna specializes in stem cell therapy that taps into your body’s own natural healing abilities, giving them a boost.

To do this, he extracts stem cells from your own bone marrow and mixes them with stem cells from amniotic tissue. Stem cells have the amazing ability to morph into any type of cell you need (unlike specialized cells that only do one job). So when these are injected into the treatment area, they transform into the cells needed to repair and rebuild your damaged nerves and spinal tissues.

Not all cases of spinal stenosis respond well to stem cell therapy, but those that do experience accelerated healing and pain relief.

To find out more about spinal stenosis, what’s causing yours, and what your treatment options are, call us at either our Decatur or Trophy Club, Texas offices, or request an appointment online and stop living in pain.

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