Mercy Spine Surgeon Dr. Charles Edwards II Discusses Diagnosis and Treatment of Spinal Stenosis

January 04, 2020


There are more than 200,000 cases of spinal stenosis diagnosed every year. It commonly occurs in the neck and lower back. It can put pressure on the spinal cord and the nerves within the spine, causing pain, numbness and weakness.

Pain in the back and/or legs could be spinal stenosis.

If it is, there may be a solution, and it's an answer one woman wishes she had known sooner.

Carol Haines can enjoy discussing holiday plans with Dr. Charles Edwards II now, but last year, that wasn't the case.

She had to cancel a vacation to Myrtle Beach because of the pain she experienced on a previous trip with the family.

"I would sit in the room and read where everybody else was on the beach or at the pool or something, but I was just in too much pain," Haines said.

She was unable to climb stairs, walk or drive comfortably, and pain medication no longer worked.
Haines suffered for two long years.

"It was in my lower back, my buttocks and down my right leg into my calf," she said.

She thought it was sciatica, but her daughter told her to go see a spine specialist.

Noted spinal surgeon Charles C. Edwards, II, M.D., Medical Director of The Maryland Spine Center at Mercy Medical Center, ordered an MRI and immediately saw the problem.

"Spinal stenosis is a fairly common condition where the space for nerves in the spinal canal becomes narrow and the nerves become irrigated, causing symptoms affecting the back and the legs," Dr. Edwards said.

Spinal stenosis happens to many of us in mild or more severe forms as we age because the discs in our spines dehydrate, causing them to budge into the spinal canal, narrowing the space for nerves.

"By keeping our body weight down, by keeping exercise up and by avoiding nicotine, it can slow the progression of disc aging," Dr. Edwards said.

In mild cases, anti-inflammatory drugs can do the trick, but Haines had to have spinal decompression surgery, which removes inflamed tissues, freeing up space for her nerves.

Haines noted she wished she had gone to see a spinal specialist much sooner.

"Once the pain is gone it's, like, 'Wow, why did I wait so long to do this?'" she said.

To view Mercy spine surgeon Dr. Charles Edwards II’s interview regarding spinal stenosis, click here.

About Mercy

Founded in 1874 in Downtown Baltimore by the Sisters of Mercy, Mercy Medical Center is a 183-licensed bed, acute care, university-affiliated teaching hospital. Mercy has been recognized as a high-performing Maryland hospital (U.S. News & World Report); has achieved an overall 5-Star quality, safety, and patient experience rating (Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services); is A-rated for Hospital Safety (Leapfrog Hospital Safety Grade); and is certified by the American Nurses Credentialing Center as a Magnet™ hospital. Mercy Health Services is a not-for-profit health system and the parent company of Mercy Medical Center and Mercy Personal Physicians.

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