Pennsylvania governor expected to fully recover following surgery for spinal stenosis

May 20 2011
When people talk about work-related back pain, they typically have hard physical labor in mind. However, it turns out that individuals from all socioeconomic backgrounds can develop this condition, including teachers, nurses and, apparently, politicians.

In mid-May, Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett underwent a successful spine surgery after he had developed debilitating back pain while on the campaign trail, his wife revealed at a news conference, quoted by WFMZ-TV 69 News.

Mrs. Corbett revealed that the pain was so severe that it sometimes made it hard for him to walk. The couple hoped that the symptoms would go away after the stresses of the campaign ended, but exercise and rest did not bring much relief at all.

The news provider cited the governor's physicians as saying Corbett was diagnosed with spinal stenosis, a condition where the spinal canal becomes narrower, which results in compression of the nerves that exit the spine. It is not uncommon in aging individuals - Corbett is 61 years old - whose discs become drier and start to shrink. Without proper treatment, it can lead to permanent damage, such as paralysis or loss of sensation.

However, older people are not the only ones who are at risk for spinal stenosis. According to the National Institutes of Health, traumatic injuries that cause pressure on the nerve roots or the spinal cord can also result in this condition, as can congenital anatomical defects of the spine.

Fortunately, the agency claims that not all cases require surgical interventions that may have significant side effects. In fact, many people respond well to conservative treatments, such as medications, physical therapy and lifestyle changes.

Epidural steroid injections may also provide temporary relief of pain and improve the quality of life of individuals with spinal stenosis.