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Spinal Stenosis

Spinal Stenosis

Spinal Stenosis services offered in Seattle, WA

The spine conditions responsible for spinal stenosis develop gradually over many years, seldom causing symptoms before the age of 50. At Seattle Spine Institute, Paul E. Schwaegler, MD, and Jeff Fernandez, PA, offer comprehensive care for spinal stenosis, including medication, exercise, and minimally invasive surgery to fix the underlying problem if your symptoms don’t improve. Early treatment may help slow down the degenerative processes leading to spinal stenosis, so don’t wait to schedule an appointment. Call the office in Seattle, Washington, or book online today.

Spinal Stenosis Q & A

What causes spinal stenosis?

Every vertebra has openings that create nerve pathways. An opening on the back side of each vertebra creates the spinal canal, a protected space for the spinal cord. Openings on the sides of a vertebra (foramen) allow nerves to leave (and return to) the spinal cord.

Spinal stenosis occurs when one or more of these openings are narrowed, either due to a traumatic injury or when other tissues protrude into the opening.

The conditions that most often cause spinal stenosis include:

  • Herniated discs
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Degenerative disc disease
  • Thickened ligaments
  • Slipped vertebrae (spondylolisthesis)
  • Bone spurs
  • Spinal tumors

You experience symptoms when the condition causing spinal stenosis compresses the nerves.

What symptoms occur due to spinal stenosis?

Pinched nerves cause localized pain and symptoms that travel through the nerve. Spinal stenosis most often affects the lower back (lumbar spine), causing:

  • Low back pain
  • Pain shooting down one leg (sciatica)
  • Leg tingling or numbness
  • Weak leg muscles
  • Muscle pain (in your legs and along your spine)
  • Difficulty walking and poor balance
  • Increased pain with prolonged sitting or standing

The severity of your pain may vary, but many people struggle with severe back and leg pain.

How is spinal stenosis treated?

Spinal stenosis treatment begins with anti-inflammatory medications, pain relievers, or muscle relaxants. Your provider may recommend steroid injections. Many people improve with physical therapy that gently stretches and strengthens the spine.

If your symptoms don’t improve with conservative treatments or you have severe nerve symptoms, your Seattle Spine Institute provider explains your options for minimally invasive spine surgery.

The type of surgery you need depends on the cause of your spinal stenosis. You may need a discectomy or microdiscectomy to treat a herniated disc, one of several procedures that can decompress the pinched nerves, or surgery to remove bone spurs or stabilize a slipped vertebrae.

After decompression surgery, Dr. Schwaegler may need to fuse the two bones together to restore spinal strength and stability. If he removed a disc, he may perform a total disc replacement instead of a fusion.

The Seattle Spine Institute team also specializes in implanting the Coflex® Interlaminar Stabilization® device. After decompression surgery, Dr. Schwaegler inserts the device between the adjacent vertebrae, where it supports your spine without needing a spinal fusion.

If you have signs of spinal stenosis, call Seattle Spine Institute or book an appointment online today.

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