Spinal stenosis pain can originate in the neck or lower back. If you have been diagnosed with spinal stenosis (spinal narrowing) or you suspect that you have the condition, you are probably intimately familiar with this type of pain.
Spinal stenosis pain can manifest itself in a number of ways, depending on the location of the stenosis (or “narrowing”) in the spinal canal and the severity of any compression on the spinal cord or its nerve roots. Since every individual is different, pain tolerances and sensations also are different.
However, medical experts have a relatively good grasp on the characteristics of pain associated with spinal stenosis, which are summarized here:
- Pain can be a dull ache or a sharp, stabbing sensation in one location of the neck or back, or it can be a tingling or burning sensation that radiates from one spot along the spinal column to other areas of the body, such as the shoulders, hips, buttocks, arms or legs.
- Patients may have difficulty walking but will find relief when leaning forward and bracing on an object, such as a walker or shopping cart.
- Spinal stenosis pain can be chronic (primarily in moderate to severe cases) and can severely limit work and leisure-related activities.
- Pain can be aggravated by motion, such as bending, twisting, standing, walking or swinging a golf club, or by a repetitious physical activity, such as heavy lifting.
- In cases of mild spinal stenosis, pain may persist, but it also may come and go over the course of a few days or a week. It isn’t likely to stop you from most activities, but it may slow you down.
In addition to pain, spinal stenosis can cause stiffness in the neck (cervical region) or in the lower back (lumbar region). Spinal stenosis also causes, in some patients, numbness and tingling in the extremities. Other spinal stenosis symptoms may include cramping in the legs or arms, difficulty balancing and walking and possibly headaches, vertigo and muscle aches.
If your pain or other symptoms are situated in the lower back, you likely have lumbar spinal stenosis, which affects the lumbar vertebrae. Lumbar spinal stenosis is the most common form of spinal stenosis. On the other hand, if your pain or other symptoms are in the neck area and you also have difficulty walking, you may have cervical spinal stenosis.
Symptoms of spinal stenosis are caused by a narrowing of the spinal canal. When the spinal canal becomes unusually narrow along any portion, the spinal cord or nerve roots can become pinched or squeezed. Since nerves control movement and sensation in our bodies, when they are compressed, their signals can be heightened or interrupted, resulting in painful symptoms and muscle weakness.
If you have been diagnosed with moderate or severe spinal stenosis and nothing seems to help, contact Laser Spine Institute to learn more about our outpatient treatments for this condition. Our effective minimally invasive procedures can release pinched nerves and help you find meaningful relief from neck or back pain. We even can provide you with a review of your MRI or CT scan to determine if you are a candidate for one of our procedures.