Lots of problems can cause back pain, and if you’re lucky, those symptoms fade after a little rest and TLC. But chronic back pain lasts — sometimes for a lifetime — and its effects can be life-altering.
Spinal stenosis is a relatively common cause of chronic back pain, affecting about a half million Americans. Yet despite its prevalence, many men and women don’t know about spinal stenosis or why it happens.
At Pacific Sports and Spine, our team uses advanced techniques, including the state-of-the-art Vertiflex™ Procedure with Superion™ Indirect Decompression System, to diagnose and manage spinal stenosis symptoms.
If you have chronic back pain, here’s what you need to know about spinal stenosis and Vertiflex treatment.
Your spine is made up of a series of bones called vertebrae. These bones have openings in the center. When lined up, the holes form a continuous channel that extends from the base of your skull all the way down to your tailbone.
That channel forms a protective conduit for all your nerves as they travel from your brain to your limbs, organs, and every other part of your body and back again. Each nerve exits your spine through small openings between each pair of vertebrae. These openings are supported, in part, by spongy discs located between each pair of bones.
Spinal stenosis develops when the nerves get cramped or compressed inside your spinal canal or where they exit the canal. This compression can happen for different reasons, but in spinal stenosis, it’s most often associated with age-related changes in your spine and your discs.
For instance, as you age, your spinal discs tend to flatten, losing some of the volume that creates the spaces where nerves leave your spine. As the discs flatten, the space between your vertebrae shrinks, and your nerves can wind up getting pinched.
Not surprisingly, spinal stenosis can cause a lot of discomfort in your back — especially your neck and lower spine, the two most flexible parts of your spine. But it can also cause symptoms along the pathway of the affected nerve.
Those symptoms include aching, sharp or shooting pain, numbness, and pins-and-needles tingling. In extreme cases, you may lose grip strength or have a loss of coordination in your arms or legs. You might even develop problems controlling your bladder or bowels.
To treat spinal stenosis, the goal is to decompress affected nerves and maintain adequate space for the nerves to exit your spine. Vertiflex achieves this goal with small, durable implants that supplement the space provided by a natural spine disc.
During the Vertiflex procedure, we insert the implant through a very small incision. Once in place, the implant acts as a spacer to provide more room for your nerves, relieving nerve compression and the painful symptoms it can cause.
Vertiflex implants come in different sizes to accommodate differences in individual patient anatomy. Plus, the Vertiflex procedure is minimally invasive, which means faster healing and no need for general anesthesia or large incisions.
The Veriflex spacer is designed to last for years, making it a good alternative for people who want to relieve stenosis-related symptoms without undergoing a more invasive surgery.
Although spinal stenosis is relatively common, it’s not the only cause of chronic back pain. The best way to determine the cause of your symptoms is to see us for an evaluation.
To learn more about the Vertiflex system and other techniques we offer, book an appointment today at Pacific Sports and Spine in Eugene or Roseburg, Oregon.