Spinal stenosis is a narrowing of one or more areas in your spine, which can pressure 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. Symptoms vary, depending on the location of the stenosis.
Causes & Risk Factors
Two risk factors for spinal stenosis are the aging process and genetic disorders. Causes of the condition include:
- Arthritis: Both osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis – can cause your spine to degenerate and may cause the production of bone spurs that can narrow your spinal passages.
- Paget’s disease: A condition that creates soft, weak bones that are prone to fractures.
- Spinal trauma: Injuries sustained in car accidents or falls can cause dislocations or fractures of one or more vertebrae that can displace bone and damage your spinal canal.
- Spinal tumors: 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.
Most people first notice symptoms after age 50. Depending on which nerves are affected, spinal stenosis can have a variety of symptoms:
- Leg pain or cramping: Compressed nerves in your lower (lumbar) spine can cause pain or cramping in your legs.
- Loss of bowel or bladder control: In cases of severe spinal stenosis, nerves to your bladder or bowel may be affected.
- Neck or shoulder pain: Compressed nerves in your neck can cause pain in your neck and/or shoulder – though spinal stenosis in your neck often causes no pain.
- Numbness, weakness, tingling: 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.
This condition is often difficult to diagnose because other conditions can cause symptoms. Quite often, people who develop stenosis have no history of back problems or a recent injury.
- An MRI or CT scan is generally used to determine the cause of symptoms being experienced.
- A myelogram, an x-ray taken after a dye is injected into the spine, can also be used to diagnose the condition.
Spinal Stenosis Pain Management & Treatment
Spinal stenosis pain management and treatment options depend on the severity of the symptoms. Self-management techniques include getting adequate rest, exercising to build strength and endurance, and avoiding activities that cause adverse symptoms. At PMIR Medical Center, we offer a variety of pain management and treatment options that include: