Symptoms of Spinal Stenosis

Symptoms of Spinal Stenosis

Spinal stenosis is an inflammatory condition that affects the spine and nerves. Read on to learn more about chronic lumbar pain and complications.

Table of Contents

What Is Spinal Stenosis?

Naturally, the spinal cord is designed in such a way to regulate pressure without pain. However, spinal stenosis is the narrowing or shrinking of the spinal canal, the area where the spinal cord is found. This results in unnatural pressure on the nerves and the spinal cord. This pressure can cause pain as well as other symptoms.

Spinal stenosis is not a serious condition with treatment. However, if left untreated, spinal stenosis can permanently or chronically affect the body. As a result, learning to understand this condition and recognize the symptoms is important.

Who Gets Spinal Stenosis?

Spinal stenosis is rare in those under 40 years old. Most often, this condition occurs in those with regular inflammation. This includes different types of arthritis.
However, while rare, spinal stenosis may occur in younger populations. When it does happen in these situations, it’s usually due to another disorder or condition.

Types of Spinal Stenosis

While we often think of our spine as a single structure, it is actually made up of different parts. These include the cervical spine, the thoracic spine, the lumbar spine, and the sacrum and coccyx. Spinal stenosis can impact any of these parts, but cervical and lumbar are most common.1
These different types of spinal stenosis will be detailed below.

Cervical Stenosis

Cervical stenosis affects the cervical region of the spine. This is the first seven vertebrae that make up the neck region to the top of the shoulders. Cervical stenosis has many causes, from abnormal bone sizes to ligament growth.2

Lumbar Stenosis

The lumbar spine is the lower part of the spine that connects to the tailbones. Stenosis in this area affects the last of the vertebrae in the spine. Like cervical spinal stenosis, lumbar spinal stenosis occurs most often because of age-related degradation and wear and tear.3

Symptoms of Spinal Stenosis

The symptoms of spinal stenosis may vary depending on the region affected. This means that cervical stenosis may not appear the same as lumbar stenosis.
Below are the symptoms of spinal stenosis depending on whether it affects the cervical or lumbar spine.

In The Neck (Cervical Spine)

When spinal stenosis affects the neck and cervical spine, affects will mostly be felt in the upper body. However, because many parts of the upper body affect overall function (such as ears affecting balance), symptoms can manifest in various areas.

Symptoms of Cervical Stenosis

Some of the symptoms of cervical stenosis include:
  • Numbness or tingling in a hand, arm, foot, or leg
  • Weakness in a hand, arm, foot, or leg
  • Problems with walking and balance
  • Neck pain
  • Bowel or bladder dysfunction (urinary urgency and incontinence)

In The Lower Back (Lumbar Spine)

Spinal stenosis in the lumbar spine is typically associated with pain and weakness in the lower parts of the body. This is seen most in the legs.

Symptoms of Lumbar Spine Stenosis

Some of the symptoms of lumbar spine stenosis include:
  • Numbness or tingling in a foot or leg
  • Weakness in a foot or leg
  • Pain or cramping in one or both legs
  • Back pain

What Causes Spinal Stenosis?

Spinal stenosis is most associated with age-related conditions. One of the most common causes is arthritis. However, any condition that causes chronic inflammation can lead to the development of spinal stenosis. This includes injury as well as certain conditions.

Potential Origins of Spinal Stenosis

Some of the causes of spinal stenosis can include:
  • Overgrowth of bone
  • Herniated disks
  • Thickened ligaments
  • Tumors
  • Spinal injuries

Spinal Stenosis Diagnosis and Tests

Thankfully, spinal stenosis can be easily diagnosed through tests, such as X-rays, MRIs, and different scans. These tests can create an image of the spine, spinal cord, and spinal column. Here, medical professionals can view the images and not only diagnose spinal stenosis but also locate the area of inflammation. If an injury, thickened ligaments, or any other similar situation has caused spinal stenosis, these may also be noticeable at the time. The tests used to identify and diagnose spinal stenosis include:

  • X-rays
  • MRI
  • CT or CT myelogram
Depending on the symptoms and the results from tests, however, your healthcare provider may investigate other tests to rule out possible conditions.

Spinal Stenosis Treatment

Spinal Stenosis Symptoms

Treatment for spinal stenosis can include medication to manage the pain and reduce inflammation as well as surgery for more severe cases. Lumbar spinal stenosis is one of the main reason patients over 65 years old seek surgery.4

What Are The Risks of Surgery For Spinal Stenosis?

While surgery for spinal stenosis is common, it is still a medical procedure involving the spine. As a result, it isn’t without risk. Discussing these risks before scheduling surgery with your healthcare provider is important.
For some, their spinal stenosis case is severe enough that even some of the more severe risks would be less of a concern.

Potential Surgery Risks to Consider

However, if milder cases of spinal stenosis, medication, and homeopathic remedies such as light stretching, may be better. These can help regulate and reduce inflammation without the risks of surgery. Some of these risks may include:
  • Nerve injury
  • Tear in the membrane that covers the nerve or spinal cord
  • Failure of the bone to heal after surgery
  • Failure of the metal plates, screws, and other fasteners
  • Need for additional surgery
  • No relief of symptoms/return of symptoms

Get Help For Spinal Stenosis At Jflowers Health

Spinal Stenosis can make it difficult to enjoy life. However, proper physical therapy, guided yoga, stretching, and medication can help manage pain and reduce inflammation.

At Jflowers Health, you’ll find a staff of professional healthcare providers prepared to offer the guidance and compassion you need as you learn to regulate and heal from spinal stenosis. We also provide various resources to help you better understand chronic pain.