Recently, 32-year-old NY Mets star third baseman- David Wright, was sidelined with what is known as “Spinal Stenosis”.  This is also the same condition that brought an end to the career of NY Giants running back David Wilson.  For Wright, the biomechanics involved in hitting and throwing have caused the pain in his lower to become too intense and forced him to revaluate his season. With Wright signed to the Mets through the 2020 season and $102 million contract, the Mets third baseman’s injury comes during a period of slumping offense for the Mets.  Although. the long term implications of this injury are uncertain, it will force the Mets to look elsewhere for offense to replace Wright’s .333 batting average.

As his return to the Mets this year remains in question, many are wondering what exactly is Spinal Stenosis?  

 

Below are 5 things you should know about this condition.

 

What is Spinal Stenosis?

Spinal Stenosis is the narrowing of the space around the spine, which causes impingement of the spinal nerves. This narrowing can occur in one or more of the three areas around the spine.  First, the area around the center of the spine, which causes compression of the spinal cord.  Spinal Stenosis can also occur in the spinal canals, where the nerves of the spine branch to send messages to the body. Lastly, stenosis can occur between the vertebrae causing a spinal nerve to become entrapped or compressed.
Spinal Stenosis can occur in the Lumbar or Cervical Spine.

Cervical Stenosis occurs in the neck and is a more serious diagnosis due to the possible consequences of the compression on the spinal cord. This compression can cause the space between the vertebras to shrink and has the potential to result in weakness of the body and over time cause paralysis.

Lumbar Stenosis takes place in the lower back area and is the more common diagnosis.  This occurs when the spinal nerves in the lumbar are compressed and unable to send clear signals to the lower extremities. This can result in pain and numbness in the leg area, otherwise known as Sciatica. It is important to note that Lumbar Stenosis does not always result in pain or any symptoms

What causes Spinal Stenosis?

Aging– As the body gets older, the space around the spine may begin to narrow for several reasons. Most commonly, this is due to the dehydration of spinal discs, which causes the loss of disc height and stability.  This loss of height can cause the space between vertebras to narrow.

Injury– An unfortunate accident may result in symptoms of Spinal Stenosis years later.  Over time, an injury to the bones or joints of the spine may cause the growth of a bone spur.  This bone spur may begin to intrude into the spinal canal or spaces between the discs, causing symptoms of Spinal Stenosis.

Hereditary– Some people may have a compressed spinal cord from birth, but symptoms may not arise until later in life.

What are the symptoms of Spinal Stenosis?

A patient with spinal stenosis may or may not show symptoms for many years.  However, as the narrowing between the spaces of the spine becomes more confined, symptoms may begin to present themselves. Initially, this may appear as mild back pain and is treated with over the counter remedies.

After days/weeks/months pass, the area may become more and the pain may increase due to irritation or inflammation of the nerves and can result in a person experiencing stenosis symptoms when standing or walking.

Other symptoms can include:

  • Burning sensation in the arms or legs
  • Numbness
  • Weakness
  • Tingling – Radiates from lower back to buttocks, back of thigh, down the leg
  • Sharp, shooting pain which can cause discomfort when attempting to stand or walk
  • Neck or shoulder pain
  • In severe cases of stenosis, loss of bowel or bladder control

How is Spinal Stenosis treated?

In many cases, the symptoms of Spinal Stenosis can be treated with modalities such as core strengthening and physical therapy.  However, for those who do not find relief after physical therapy or conservative modalities, surgery may be an option.  Surgery is most often appropriate when the space around the spine has become too narrow, causing impingement of the spinal nerves or if a bone spur is impinging a spinal nerve.  By releasing the nerve from its entrapped state, the symptoms of Spinal Stenosis can be relieved and the patient can continue leading an active and healthy life.

At Total Orthopedics and Sports Medicine, innovative spinal surgeon Dr. Karen Avenosov, leads our Spine Center Team.  With his unique expertise and training, Dr. Avenosov can treat those with a wide variety of spinal conditions utilizing the latest techniques in Minimally Invasive Spine Surgery.  This type of surgery allows the surgeon to treat the underlying spinal condition while keeping the muscles and bone structures around the spine intact.  This allows not only for a shorter recovery, but also less time in the OR and less pain and scarring after surgery.

If you, or someone you love, is suffering the symptoms of Spinal Stenosis or any other spinal condition, contact Total Orthopedics and Sports Medicine today.  We have offices conveniently located throughout Long Island.