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Treating Lumbar Spinal Stenosis

Joliet, IL (November 15, 2010)—Spinal stenosis is a narrowing of the spinal canal causing pressure on the spinal cord and/or nerves. This condition affects a large number of people over age 50. These changes might create minor aches and pains in some patients, although in more severe cases, spine and neck pain can significantly impact a person's quality of life.

If you’re one of the 700,000 people diagnosed with lumbar spinal stenosis each year, there are steps you can take to get relief. Join Dr. Tom Hurley, neurosurgeon, for a discussion about the available treatments for lumbar spinal stenosis, which is a common problem associated with leg, buttock, groin and back pain. This free program will be held on Wednesday, Dec. 8, from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. in the Silver Cross Hospital Conference Center, 1200 Maple Rd., Joliet. To register to attend, call 1-888-660-HEAL (4325).

hurley tWhat Causes Spinal Stenosis?
“A variety of things can cause spinal stenosis,” says Dr. Hurley. “With age, the body's ligaments (tough connective tissues between the bones in the spine) can thicken. Spurs (small growths) may develop on the bones and into the spinal canal. Also the cushioning disks between the vertebrae may begin to deteriorate”

Other causes include:
Arthritis. Two forms of arthritis that may affect the spine are osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.

Heredity. If the spinal canal is too small at birth, symptoms of spinal stenosis may show up in a relatively young person.

Instability of the Spine, or Spondylolisthesis. When one vertebra slips forward on another that can narrow the spinal canal.

Tumors of the spine. Abnormal growths of soft tissue may affect the spinal canal directly by causing inflammation or by growth of tissue into the canal.

Trauma.: Accidents and injuries may either dislocate the spine and the spinal canal or cause burst fractures that produce fragments of bone that penetrate the canal.

How Is Spinal Stenosis Diagnosed?
Spinal stenosis can be difficult to diagnose because its symptoms can be caused by other conditions. Often, unusual leg symptoms are a clue to the presence of spinal stenosis.

If simple treatments, such as postural changes or anti-inflammatory drugs, do not relieve the problem, special imaging studies can determine the cause of the problem. An MRI (magnetic resonance image) or CAT (computed tomography) scan may be requested. A myelogram (an X-ray taken after a dye is injected into the spine) may be performed. These studies can offer details about the bones and tissues and help with diagnosis.

How Is Spinal Stenosis Treated?
Spinal stenosis can be treated several ways. Treatment options include:

Changes in posture. People with spinal stenosis may find that flexing the spine by leaning forward while walking relieves their symptoms.

Medications. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications such as aspirin or ibuprofen may help relieve symptoms.

Rest. Rest, followed by a gradual resumption of activity, can help. Aerobic activity such as bicycling is often recommended.

Surgery. If other treatments do not ease the pain, surgery may be recommended to relieve the pressure on affected nerves.

“The best way to develop a treatment plan is to diagnose the severity of Spinal Stenosis. With so many innovative treatments available today, patients can learn the best options with a physician visit” says Dr. Hurley.

About Dr. Thomas Hurley
Thomas Hurley, M.D., earned his medical degree from Rush Medical College in Chicago. He remained at Rush for his residency training in neurological surgery. He joined Silver Cross Hospital in 1996 as a founding member and medical director of the CINN Institute of Spinal Care. With over 15 years of experience, Dr. Hurley treats a wide range of nervous system conditions. He is an authority in the care of patients with traumatic spine disorders, specializing in complex fusion and minimally invasive procedures. Dr. Hurley has been recognized as one of the “Top Docs” at Silver Cross Hospital for outstanding patient satisfaction.

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