Do you have trouble standing up straight due to pain, or difficulty walking even short distances before you have to stop and sit because it hurts so much? If so, you might have a condition called spinal stenosis. In this video, Dr. Rowe goes over the signs and symptoms of spinal stenosis, and shares two effective treatments to help relieve pain.
What is spinal stenosis?
A common cause of neck, back, and sciatica pain is due to spinal stenosis, which is when the spaces where the spinal nerves travel through the spine begin to narrow and become closed off. Think of a hole where a spinal nerve goes through that is becoming smaller and smaller, until it’s so small it starts to pinch the spinal cord or spinal nerve roots. This results in a compressed, or pinched nerve, that causes pain, tingling, or numbness.
What are the signs and symptoms of spinal stenosis?
Spinal stenosis causes nerve compression that can lead to many symptoms not only in the neck and back, but also in the arms or legs. Symptoms such as traveling pains like sciatica, weakness, cramping, numbness and tingling, and muscle spasms. In very severe cases, incontinence or paralysis has been reported.
People that suffer from spinal stenosis have pain when trying to stand up straight, especially after sitting for a long time. Other signs may include pain or weakness with walking — especially while going up or down a hill, ramp or stairs — which is often relieved with sitting or leaning forward.
A big sign I see here at SpineCare is when a patient tells me that it’s unbearable to shop at a store, unless they have a shopping cart they can lean in to while walking.
What causes spinal stenosis?
Probably the biggest cause of stenosis I see is due osteoarthritis — or “wear and tear” arthritis that is from repetitive injuries and stresses on the neck or back. The most common cause of osteoarthritis is lack of motion or misalignment of the vertebrae (or building blocks) in the spine. Osteoarthritis causes osteophytes (or bone spurs) which narrow the canal, compressing the spinal cord or spinal nerve.
Other causes of stenosis include:
Disc herniation or bulges
Tumors or cysts
And a previous injury or surgery to the spine (especially if not treated properly)
Spinal Stenosis is more common in people over the age of 50, due to the build-up of osteoarthritis and bone spurs over time in the neck or back. Also at risk are people who have sedentary lifestyles, such as sitting for most of the day, which leads to a lack of motion in the spine. This increases the chance of developing osteoartithis and stenosis.