Difference Between Spinal Stenosis and Herniated Disc

Discs in the spinal column wear out over time. This causes them to lose their flexibility. When this happens, the discs can tear or rupture if strained or twisted slightly. Spinal stenosis symptoms have many different causes.

Like with a herniated disc, spinal stenosis can occur because of age-related degradation. However, it can also be caused by injuries to the spine or conditions like osteoarthritis. If the ligaments for the bones become thickened, there will be less space within the spinal canal. As mentioned before, both of these conditions cause some of the same symptoms. If a herniated disc occurs in your lower back, you will feel pain in your legs, thighs, and buttocks. With spinal stenosis, different nerves can be compressed.

This generally causes weakness, numbness, or pain in the legs and feet. Pain in the lower back is also common. In severe cases of spinal stenosis, you may lose control of your bowel and bladder.

With a herniated disc treatment, the damaged portion of the disc will get better over time. You can simply perform beneficial exercises to correct the condition. You will also need to avoid positions that cause you more pain. Until the condition goes away, you will likely need medication to deal with the pain. It can take up to two months for the pain to go away.

The treatment for spinal stenosis is much more involved. In milder cases, a physical therapist can help relieve some of the symptoms that you experience, and he will also explain to you how you should react when you feel severe pain or like you can’t move.

If your condition requires help from a doctor, he may prescribe you various medications or even give you an injection of steroids. Surgery may also be an option, but it is very risky and may not even relieve your symptoms.

Since spinal stenosis and herniated discs cause some of the same symptoms, people commonly mistake the two. A herniated disc will usually resolve itself if given time. However, spinal stenosis requires much more active treatment since it is a very serious condition that’s characterized by narrowed space in the spinal canal. It can require pain medications, physical therapy, steroids, or surgery to correct.

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