Symptoms of spinal stenosis vary depending on the location of the condition as well as the severity of it. Spinal stenosis is a narrowing of the spinal canal and it can happen at any location on the spine, however it most frequently occurs in the lumbar (lower back) and cervical (neck) regions. If the narrowing occurs in the lumbar (lower) spine, symptoms are usually concentrated in the buttocks, lower back, legs and feet. Likewise, symptoms of spinal stenosis in the cervical spine (neck) are usually felt in the shoulders, arms and hands. However, since the spinal cord controls functions all over the body, it is possible for cervical spinal stenosis to have symptoms that are felt in the legs and feet, and vice versa.
In general, symptoms of both cervical and lumbar spinal stenosis include:
- Pain in the affected area of the spine
- Pain that radiates to your hips, shoulders, and extremities
- Cramping in the legs
- Difficulty balancing or walking
- Headaches and muscle weakness
It is possible to have spinal stenosis while experiencing no symptoms at all, or the symptoms can appear slowly and then gradually worsen over time. If you think you are experiencing symptoms of spinal stenosis, it’s important to talk with your family doctor to confirm the cause of your symptoms and be aware of all of the treatment options available to you. Keeping this in mind, we offer you the following check list to help you determine whether or not you may have this condition.
- Do you have occasional or frequent pain in one or both of your legs?
- Do you occasionally or frequently experience a numbness or tingling sensation in one or both of your legs?
- Do certain activities bring on the pain more than others?
- Do you experience pain or discomfort when you walk?
- If you sit down and rest when you feel this pain does the pain go away?
- Is the pain inconsistent (only happens every now and then)?
If you answered yes to 4 or more of these questions, there is a possibility that you suffer from spinal stenosis. If you think you do and need assurance, please consult your family doctor at your earliest convenience.
Your doctor will diagnose the problem using a physical examination and perhaps an X-ray or MRI, and then will design a treatment plan catered to your specific case. Generally, spinal stenosis treatments begin conservatively with stretching, exercise and rest.? If symptoms persist, your doctor may try prescription medication, physical therapy or steroid injections. In the rare case that pain is severe and untreatable by conventional methods, surgery is an option.
The good news is, if you’re suffering from symptoms of spinal stenosis and have tried conservative therapy with no success, Laser Spine Institute (LSI) offers a minimally invasive alternative to traditional open back surgery. LSI’s surgeons use an endoscope and tiny tools through a small incision, thereby allowing for shorter recovery time, reduced pain and less scarring. Contact us today to hear more about these revolutionary procedures, and to ask us about a free MRI or CT scan review.