Spinal Stenosis and Myelopathy Treatment | Loyola Medicine

Spinal Stenosis and Myelopathy

Advanced Techniques to Treat Spinal Stenosis and Myelopathy

The orthopaedic and neurosurgery specialists at Loyola Medicine achieve excellent outcomes for patients suffering from disabling back conditions such as spinal stenosis and myelopathy. Spinal stenosis occurs when the spinal column is narrowed, putting pressure on the spinal cord and nerves leaving the spinal column. Myelopathy occurs when the disks and vertebrae (bones) of the spine are compressed vertically, putting pressure on the spinal cord.

Spinal stenosis and myelopathy can result from a spinal injury, tumors or herniated disks. Wear and tear on your vertebrae also can prompt the formation of bone spurs that can grow into the spinal canal. Your Loyola doctor will categorize spinal problems based on where they are located: cervical (neck), thoracic (chest level) or lumbar (lower back).

At Loyola, our spine team uses an integrated approach, combining the expertise of orthopaedic surgeons, neurosurgeons, neurologists, radiologists, nurses, pain management specialists and physical therapists to provide the best possible care for your condition.

Why Choose Loyola for Spinal Stenosis and Myelopathy Treatment?

Surgery for myelopathy and spinal stenosis requires work on some of the smallest and most delicate parts of the body. In these cases, it is crucial to choose an experienced surgical team who specializes in spinal procedures. 

Choosing a center like Loyola that performs hundreds of spine surgeries each year means you are likely to have a safer procedure and a better outcome. Loyola uses advanced intraoperative imaging, allowing surgeons to use CT (computed tomography) and MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) technology to capture detailed 3D pictures of your spine during surgery. 

How is Spinal Stenosis and Myelopathy Diagnosed?

Patients with spinal stenosis or myelopathy might feel weakness in part of an arm or leg, as well as numbness, cramping, muscle spasms or pain in other parts of the body. These symptoms frequently get worse over time. Left untreated, spinal stenosis and myelopathy can cause trouble balancing while walking or problems controlling urine or bowel movements. 

To determine if your pain is being caused by spinal stenosis or myelopathy, your Loyola doctor will conduct a thorough physical exam and review your medical history. Your doctor may also request imaging to make a definitive diagnosis or understand your condition more fully. Your imaging tests may include:

  • CT myelogram (computed tomography that focuses on the spine)
  • MRI (magnetic resonance imaging)
  • X-rays

What Treatment Options are Available for Spinal Stenosis and Myelopathy?

Spinal stenosis and myelopathy usually do not require surgery. These conditions are usually treated with rest, pain killers, anti-inflammatory drugs, physical therapy and exercise. Your Loyola doctor may even recommend a back brace. 

Spine surgery may be considered if more conservative treatments aren’t helping, or if your symptoms are affecting your quality of life. Your Loyola team may consider the following surgical techniques depending on your condition:

  • Diskectomy — Removes all or part of a herniated disk
  • Laminectomy — Removes part of the affected vertebrae to create more room in the spinal canal
  • Spinal decompression surgery — Frees the nerve roots that come out of the spinal column
  • Spinal fusion — Joins two or more vertebrae to keep the spine more stable

Your Loyola healthcare team will discuss the risks and benefits of any treatment plan with you prior to the start of treatment. In the event surgery is required, Loyola’s spine specialists are experts in their field and will help you get back to your normal activities and daily life.