Where is spinal stenosis pain usually experienced?
Spinal stenosis pain can affect different areas of the body depending on the location and severity of the condition. Characterized by a narrowing of the spinal canal or nerve root exits in the spinal column, spinal stenosis frequently occurs in the lumber (lower) and cervical (upper) regions. If the narrowing occurs in the lumbar region, symptoms are typically felt in the lower back, buttocks, legs and feet. Conversely, if the stenosis is in the cervical region and a nerve root is compressed, it usually affects the shoulders, arms and hands. If the spinal cord is compressed, it can lead to weakness in any area of the body below the point of compression. This means a patient with spinal stenosis in the neck can experience weakness in the legs and difficulty walking.
While some people are born with very narrow spinal canals, stenosis usually results from spinal trauma or a degenerative condition that encroaches on the already limited amount of space available in the spinal column. This can occur when a bone spur, or overgrowth of bone, forms in the spinal canal. It can also develop when a spinal disc bulges or herniates, allowing displaced disc material to press on or irritate the spinal cord or nearby nerve roots.
Symptoms of spinal stenosis
While spinal stenosis does not always produce symptoms, some of the signs commonly displayed by both lumbar and cervical spinal stenosis include:
- Back pain
- Leg cramps
- Pain that radiates through the extremities
- Balance problems
- Walking difficulties
- Muscle weakness
What to do
If you’re exhibiting one or more of these symptoms and suspect that you might have spinal stenosis, it’s best to see a doctor who can confirm your diagnosis and design a customized treatment plan to meet your needs. In many cases, conservative therapies like rest and targeted stretching are attempted initially. Then, if the spinal stenosis pain and other symptoms persist, a doctor might recommend cortisone injections or, as a last resort, surgical intervention.
Prior to consenting to any type of surgery, it’s best to explore all available options. The surgeons at Laser Spine Institute perform minimally invasive outpatient procedures that are safer and effective^ alternatives to traditional open spine surgery for addressing the pain of spinal stenosis and other degenerative spine conditions. To learn if you are a candidate for our procedures and to request a free review* of your MRI or CT scan, please contact us today.