Common Symptoms of Spinal Stenosis
Low Back Pain
Numbness or Tingling
Shooting Pain in Buttock, Arms or Legs
Reduced Pain When Sitting or Bending
Spinal Stenosis Pain Relief, Symptoms and Causes
Spinal stenosis is the narrowing of your spinal canal and nerve root canal along with the enlargement of your facet joints. Most commonly it is caused by osteoarthritis and your body's natural aging process, but it can also develop from injury or previous surgery. As the spinal canal narrows, there is less room for your nerves to branch out and move freely. As a result, they may become swollen and inflamed, which can cause pain, cramping, numbness or weakness in your legs, back, neck, or arms.
Spinal stenosis is a degenerative condition that happens gradually over time and refers to:
- Narrowing of the spinal and nerve root canals
- Enlargement of the facet joints
- Stiffening of the ligaments
- Overgrowth of bone and bone spurs
Stenosis can occur along any area of the spine (cervical, thoracic, lumbar), but is most common in the lumbar area. Nearly every adult's spinal canal narrows with age; however, for most people this does not cause symptoms. Narrowing of the nerve root canal (lateral stenosis) presses on the spinal nerves, causing inflammation and pain. Narrowing of the spinal canal (central stenosis) presses on the spinal cord causing inflammation and weakness.
Anatomy of the Spinal Canal
To understand spinal stenosis, it is helpful to understand how your spine works. Your spine is made of 24 moveable bones called vertebrae. The vertebrae are separated by discs, which act as shock absorbers preventing the vertebrae from rubbing together. Down the middle of each vertebra is a hollow space called the spinal canal that contains the spinal cord, spinal nerves, ligaments, fat, and blood vessels. Spinal nerves exit the spinal canal through the intervertebral foramen (also called the nerve root canal) to branch out to your body. Both the spinal and nerve root canals are surrounded by bone and ligaments. Bony changes can narrow the canals and restrict the spinal cord or nerves.
Spinal Stenosis Symptoms
Generally speaking, the various types of spinal stenosis produce similar symptoms. Symptoms usually develop over time or may occur as a sudden onset of pain. You may feel a dull ache or sometimes sharp and severe pain in different areas, depending on which part of the spinal canal has narrowed. The pain may come and go or only occur during certain activities, like walking. The longer a patient with spinal stenosis stands or walks, the worse the leg pain will get.
- Burning, tingling, or shooting pain in the buttock, arms or legs
- Low back pain
- Reduced pain in arms and legs when bending forward or sitting
- Numbness and tingling
Leg pain with walking can be caused by either arterial circulatory insufficiency or from spinal stenosis. Leg pain from either condition will go away with rest, but with spinal stenosis the patient usually has to sit down for a few minutes to ease the leg and often low back pain, whereas leg pain from vascular claudication will go away if the patient simply stops walking.
Flexing forward or sitting will open up the spinal canal and relieve the leg pain and other symptoms, but they recur if the patient gets back into an upright posture. Numbness and tingling can accompany the pain, but true weakness is a rare symptom of spinal stenosis. An older person leaning over the handle of their shopping cart while making short stumbling steps often has spinal stenosis.
Spinal Stenosis Pain Relief Solution
Rest and restricted activity, as well as over-the-counter medications, such as aspirin and analgesics, and corticosteroid injections, have been known to provide only temporary relief of the pain associated with stenosis. Physical therapy and surgery have also shown to be somewhat effective.
Dr. Winchell, Orange County Chiropractor, is well-known for his highly successful treatment of spinal stenosis. Patients receive a personalized plan for their specific condition, but typical treatment may include joint realignment to restore the delicate spinal system back to its normal function. Dr. Winchell uses Erchonia laser therapy for spinal stenosis to reduce inflammation, increase blood flow, stimulate nerve function, help generate new healthy cells, develop collagen and muscle tissue, and promote faster healing. When appropriate, Dr. Winchell may introduce exercises to improve strength, endurance and stability, and to prevent new injuries.
Avoid often unsuccessful surgery and side affects of medication. Make Dr. Winchell your first choice for spinal stenosis recovery.