The symptoms of spinal narrowing vary depending on the location of the condition. For some, spinal narrowing (or spinal stenosis) causes neck pain; for others, stenosis leads to lower back or sciatic pain. However, the important thing to understand about this condition is that, on its own, the narrowing of the spinal canal is actually asymptomatic. Back and neck pain develop from spinal stenosis as a direct result of the presence of a compressed nerve accompanying the narrowing of the spinal canal – otherwise the individual may remain entirely unaware of their condition.
In the event that spinal narrowing results in nerve compression, a number of uncomfortable symptoms can develop, including:
- Localized pain
- Pain that travels or radiates along the affected nerve
- Muscle weakness
- Numbness or tingling
- Sciatic pain
The Location Variable
The symptoms associated with the nerve compression depend wholly on the specific nerve that is irritated or compressed. Different nerves innervate different muscle groups and tissue throughout the body, so nerve compression in the spinal column can result in symptoms in various parts of the body:
- Cervical – head, neck, shoulders, arms, wrists, hands, fingers
- Thoracic – torso, abdomen, shoulders
- Lumbar – lower back, buttocks, thighs, calves, feet, toes
- Sacral – pelvis, reproductive organs
If you experience any of the symptoms of spinal narrowing and nerve compression, it is usually necessary to visit your doctor to determine the best course of treatment for your condition. In most cases, a series of conservative, nonsurgical treatments will prove effective toward treating spinal stenosis, although some patients may require spinal surgery to completely alleviate their symptoms.