Spinal Stenosis

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Your team has made me feel like I’ve been a client for years and I hope that I can continue my therapy with all of you.

- M. M., Simi Valley, CA

What is Spinal Stenosis?

Spinal stenosis is a narrowing of one or more areas in your spine, which can place pressure on the spinal cord and/or nerves at the place of compression. About 75% of the time, spinal stenosis occurs in the lumbar spine (low back), but it can also affect the neck area. Symtoms vary, depending on the location of the stenosis.

Causes/Risk Factors

The aging process and genetic disorders are two risk factors for spinal stenosis. Causes of the condition include:

  • Paget’s disease, a condition that creates soft, weak bones that are prone to fractures
  • Spinal tumors, which are abnormal growths that can form inside the spinal cord, within the membranes that cover the spinal cord, or in the space in-between the spinal cord and vertebrae.
  • Spinal trauma, which includes car accidents or falls, can cause dislocations or fractures of one or more vertebrae that can displace bone and damage the spinal canal.
  • Arthritis —both osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis—can cause the spine to degenerate and may cause the production of bone spurs that can narrow spinal passages.

Symptoms

Most people first notice symptoms of spinal stenosis after age 50. Depending on which nerves are affected, spinal stenosis can have a variety of symptoms:

  • Numbness, weakness, tingling: Spinal stenosis in the upper spine can cause numbness, weakness or tingling in a leg, foot, arm or hand, which may in turn cause clumsiness or a lack of coordination.
  • Neck or shoulder pain: Compressed nerves in your neck can cause pain in the neck or shoulder—though spinal stenosis in the neck often causes no pain.
  • Loss of bowel or bladder control: In cases of severe spinal stenosis, nerves to the bladder or bowel may be affected.
  • Leg pain or cramping: Compressed nerves in the lower (lumbar) spine can cause pain or cramping in the legs.

Diagnosis

Spinal stenosis is often difficult to diagnose because its symptoms can be caused by other conditions. Quite often, people who develop stenosis have no history of back problems or recent injury.

  • An MRI or CT scan is generally used to determine if spinal stenosis is the cause of the symptoms being experienced.
  • A myelogram, which is an x-ray taken after a dye is injected into the spine, can also be used to diagnose spinal stenosis.

Treatment

At PMIR Medical Center, we understand that pain is a complex condition that affects the whole person—body, mind and spirit. We provide a comprehensive and multidisciplinary approach to treatment, customizing the most effective treatment plans for our patients and empowering them to become a collaborative partner in their recovery process.

Treatment options for spinal stenosis depend on the severity of the symptoms. Self-management techniques for spinal stenosis include getting adequate rest, exercising to build strength and endurance, and avoiding activities that cause adverse symptoms.

At PMIR, we offer treatment options for spinal stenosis that includes:

We specialize in non-medication-based therapies to help our patients achieve sustained pain relief. However, we do offer pain medication, when necessary, as a supplement to other treatment options.

To learn more about how we treat spinal stenosis and the treatment plan that might be best for you, schedule an appointment with a PMIR physician today.

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PMIR Pain Checker

The PMIR symptom checker is intended for educational purposes only. PMIR encourages patients to educate themselves on all pain symptoms and the treatments we provide. However, we recommend anyone who may be suffering from any pain to not self-diagnose, or to supplement seeking medical advice with information on our site. If you are in pain, or have a medical emergency contact one of our offices or dial 911.