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Ask The Expert: What Is Spinal Stenosis?

Authored by Dr. Colin Haines, MD, FACS. March 24, 2021


A common question that I get asked is, what is spinal stenosis? Oftentimes, patients see me after being diagnosed with spinal stenosis, but they don’t know exactly what this diagnosis means or how to treat it. Spinal stenosis means there is a pinching of the nerves in the low back, and this could be caused by a number of things. 

What are the kinds of spinal stenosis?

Spinal stenosis comes from multiple different problems. One of them is a disc herniation. The intervertebral disc, or the discs that live in between the bones are the normal shock absorbers that allow for motion. If one of them herniates or causes pressure on the nerves, you can get one type of spinal stenosis. 

Another type of spinal stenosis is the facet joints, all of the set joints are the normal joints that live in the back alive for motion. Well, just like the hips and the knees in someone’s body can get arthritic and get bone on bone arthritis, the same thing can happen in the joints in the back over time. If instability persists the joints can get bigger and bigger, to try to support the law that they’re no longer able to, and when that occurs, you can get pressure on the nerves, causing spinal stenosis. 

Now just because you have spinal stenosis doesn’t mean you necessarily have to have surgery. Oftentimes physical therapy, anti inflammatory medications, and even injections can take care of all the nerve pain caused by spinal stenosis. However, surgery is sometimes needed, and not all surgeries are created equal. There are many minimally invasive options and many motion preserving options even minimally invasive and robotic spinal fusions allow you to get back to the life you want. If you are suffering from spinal stenosis or believe you have this condition, contact the spine specialists at Virginia Spine Institute

About The Author

Dr. Colin Haines, MD, FACS

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