Such compression causes the mechanical trauma, leads to additional swelling of the spinal cord and affection of the spinal nerves. Spinal nerves provide sensitivity and movements, thus disturbance of their function contributes to the development of numerous symptoms. Main clinical manifestations include pain in the limbs, lower back and neck; numbness and tingling in the certain body regions; weakness in the arms or legs.
Correction of the spinal canal size and shape is a rather challenging task. Sole conservative treatment may give a temporary relieve, but not a total cure. The surgical intervention can solve the problem radically, but poses more risks. Therapy in Germany combines innovative conservative treatment options, minimally invasive surgical procedures and postoperative rehabilitation.
Methods of conservative treatment and rehabilitation in spinal stenosis
Conservative measures are the primary therapeutic approach. In many patients simple lifestyle modification is sufficient for significant alleviation of symptoms. First, a doctor collects general health information, like age, weight, level of physical activity and type of professional occupation, previous spinal injuries and concomitant disorders.
Further diagnostics adds the objective information, like localization and degree of the stenosis, affection of the spinal nerves, state of the spinal cord and muscles. Based on the results, conservative treatment may include:
- Body mass normalization by changing nutrition habits, increasing physical activity and taking medications, if necessary.
- Physical therapy in combination with massage, physical exercises and work with rehabilitation specialist.
- Drug therapy, including oral pain killers and spinal blockades with local anesthetic injections.
Although such therapy is easy-to-perform and relatively safe, it also has few disadvantages:
- The therapy should be performed lifelong, which is connected with significant expenses.
- Even well-tolerated drugs have possible side effects in case of long intake. For instance, pain killers may cause ulcer of stomach and gastrointestinal bleeding.
- The disease progression cannot always be prevented. This poses risk of irreversible spinal cord damage.
How to find a doctor for surgical treatment of spinal stenosis?
Surgical treatment is the best choice in patients with severe drug-resistant pain syndrome, sensitivity loss and movement disorders. Also it is indicated to physically active people who want to avoid any possible limitations of the disease.
Basically, all types of the surgical interventions pursue two aims:
- Provide the spinal cord decompression. Usually this includes removing or plastics of the vertebrae parts, intervertebral joints, ligaments or intervertebral discs.
- Stabilize the spinal column in new position. In complicated cases this may require intervertebral disc prosthesis or vertebral body replacement (more often in lumbar spinal stenosis).
Doctors, who specialize in the surgical treatment of spinal stenosis, should have qualification in neurosurgery and be able to work with minimally invasive equipment. In addition, the operating room should have devices for neuroprotection and visual guidance during the surgery. Number of performed interventions and rates of complications/successful outcomes should be considered as well.
Although any surgical intervention is connected with certain risks, carefully performed operation is more beneficial for the patient in the long-term perspective than the drug intake and other conservative measures.