A guide to your spinal stenosis symptoms and diagnosis
Spinal stenosis is the narrowing of the spinal cord in your lumbar or lower back. The nerves in the spinal cord are pinched which can result from a variety of causes as we age, including bone spurs, thickening of the ligaments, bulging or herniated discs, facet joint cysts, arthritis and inflammation. The following article will allow you to understand your spinal stenosis symptoms and diagnosis so you can develop a treatment plan that is right for you.
Common spinal stenosis symptoms
Cervical spinal stenosis occurs in the neck or upper back, with symptoms most often appearing slowly in the shoulders, neck, arms and hands, while increasing over time. Lumbar spinal stenosis occurs in the lower back and symptoms regularly appear in the lower back, hips and legs.
There is a wide range of symptoms that could point to spinal stenosis, including:
- Numbness, weakness or tingling
- Localized or radiating pain
- Headaches and dizziness
- Loss of balance
- Leg cramping
Making a spinal stenosis diagnosis
If you are experiencing any of these spinal stenosis symptoms, it’s important to consult a physician who can make a diagnosis and discuss the best treatment options for your specific case. Your physician will conduct a physical examination and will likely also request an MRI in order to diagnose the specific location and cause of your spinal stenosis.
Initial treatment options are generally conservative, involving stretching, exercise and over-the-counter pain medications. If symptoms persist, prescription medications, steroid injections or physical therapy also may be recommended. If you’ve tried conservative options for several weeks and your spinal stenosis symptoms continue, surgery may be an option. At Laser Spine Institute, we offer a variety of outpatient procedures that are safer and effective alternatives to traditional open back surgery.^