Spinal Stenosis Spondylolisthesis and Spondyloysis

There are many types of back problems and even though there are a number of procedures that can be preformed, any type of operation on the back can be very serious. One of the most common types of back problems is Spinal Stenosis.

Spinal Stenosis

Spinal Stenosis is when the nerves of the spine or the spine itself become pinched, usually as the result of degeneration of the spine. If the spinal canal is pinched, it is called central stenosis and if the foramen is pinched, it is called foraminal stenosis.

The most common cause for spinal stenosis is aging, which naturally causes the spine to degenerate. Arthritis also often is a factor, as the facet joints can become arthritic. As a result of these changes, the amount of space in the spinal canal is decreased, which is what causes the pinched nerves.

The most common symptom of spinal stenosis is numbness of the legs and feet. It can also lead to weakness in the lower body. Usually sitting or lying down will help relive the pain, while walking aggravates it. By leaning forward slightly, some of the pressure on the nerves can sometimes be released, so many people find leaning forward while walking helps reduce pain.

Treatment usually starts with steroid injections to the spine, which are intended to help reduce inflammation. However, only six of these can be given and after this, surgery is usually required. There are a few different methods used, but the goal is to help improve the openings of the spine to reduce the pinching. The surgery, which is called laminectomy or nerve root decompression, can greatly reduce feelings of numbness and weakness in the legs.

Degenerative Spondylolisthesis

Degenerative Spondylolisthesis is caused when one of the vertebra slips forward in relation to the other vertebrae. Typically, Spondylolisthesis is the result of the normal aging process, but the reduced stability of the facet joints can also be a factor. However, in either case, the root cause is spinal degeneration. This is often caused by the joints becoming arthritic, which causes them to fill will fluid. As a result of the slippage, the ligaments that help stabilize the spine must adjust themselves, which causes joint instability.

The most common and prevalent symptom of spondylolisthesis is back pain. Sometimes, however, spinal stenosis can also occur, which will also cause leg pain, although numbness is not usually a symptom.

For mild cases of spondylolisthesis, there is not a specific treatment. Instead, the doctor will usually prescribe that the patient preforms regular stability exercises. Stretching, however, should be avoided, as the spine is already too lose and stretching will make this worse.

Back Braces are also sometimes used, which help provide improved stability, but is usually a temporary treatment used only to address periods of pain. If surgery is required, the doctor will usually preform a fusion. Depending on the severity of the spondylolisthesis, one or more fusions may be required. The number of levels to fuse is usually based off of x-rays or other scans, including CT scans and MRIs.

Isthmic Spondyloysis and Spondylolisthesis

In Isthmic spondylolysis, some of the bones are missing from the spine. This occurs as the body is developing and can result in a great deal of pain. This type of spondyloysis is not present at birth and instead develops between the ages of 5 and 10. Genetics are thought to be a factor and people who participate in certain activities, such as gymnastics, have been found to be at an increased risk.

This type of spinal condition is not usually painful, although it is for some people, with athletes usuaully experiencing more pain than others. Spondyloysis will also sometimes cause Spondylolisthesis, or slipping, which can cause pain and numbness of the legs.

If spondylolisthesis occurs, some type of treatment is almost always required. Back braces are often used, but in serious cases a surgical fusion of the affected vertebrae will be preformed.

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