Recognizing mild, moderate and severe symptoms of spinal canal stenosis
Severe spinal canal stenosis
Severe spinal canal stenosis involves a narrowed spinal canal that is applying painful pressure on one or more surrounding spinal nerves. This narrowing can be caused by ruptured discs, disc protrusions, bone spurs or a variety of other degenerative conditions. Typically, a severe case of stenosis involves debilitating symptoms that have reduced the patient’s quality of life because they are persistent and chronic (lasting longer than three months). For this reason, it is extremely important to see your physician at the onset of symptoms so that you can treat the stenosis as early as possible, whether this involves conservative methods or spine surgery.
The stages of symptoms
The symptoms of spinal stenosis can intensify as the condition worsens. It is important that you report them to your physician as accurately and honestly as possible so that he or she can make an accurate diagnosis.
- Mild symptoms. Radicular pain that travels along the path of a nerve or localized pain that might resemble a cramp. This pain indicates that the narrowed portion of your spinal canal is compressing a spinal nerve.
- Moderate symptoms. Prolonged nerve compression can produce symptoms like tingling or a pins-and-needles sensation. This sensation indicates that the nerve has become damaged and is unable to transmit the proper sensory signals.
- Severe symptoms. When spinal canal stenosis is severe, the patient may experience numbness, loss of feeling, paralysis or muscle atrophy. The compressed nerve may be permanently damaged or dead, in which case it cannot stimulate muscles. Emergency cases of stenosis, such as cauda equina syndrome, may disrupt bladder and bowel function — if you experience this, get to an emergency room immediately.
Surgery for severe stenosis
Severe spinal stenosis may require surgery, as symptoms may be too severe at this point for conservative treatment methods. If you have spinal stenosis and your physician has recommended surgery, keep in mind that there are alternatives to highly invasive traditional open spine operations. At Laser Spine Institute, we offer minimally invasive decompression and stabilization procedures that are a safer and effective alternative to traditional open spine surgery.^ Our procedures are performed on an outpatient basis and utilize small incisions that are muscle-sparing and avoid excessive scar tissue. We can perform a free MRI review* to determine if you are a candidate for our minimally invasive procedures.
To learn more, contact the caring team at Laser Spine Institute today.