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What are the symptoms of spinal stenosis?

The symptoms of spinal stenosis will depend on the location of the condition within the spine and severity of the condition. Spinal stenosis is a narrowing within the openings of the spine. 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 experienced in the buttocks, lower back, legs and feet. Symptoms of spinal stenosis in the cervical spine (neck) are usually felt in the shoulders, arms and hands. However, since the spinal cord and the other components of the central nervous system send and receive signals to and from all parts of the body, it is possible for spinal stenosis in the neck (cervical spinal stenosis) to produce symptoms that are felt in the legs and feet. Likewise, if the condition is present in the lumbar region, symptoms could result in the arms and hands.

In general, symptoms of both cervical and lumbar spinal stenosis include:

  • Cramping in the legs
  • Pain in the affected area of the spine
  • Pain that radiates to the hips, shoulders and extremities
  • Stiffness
  • Difficulty balancing or walking
  • Numbness
  • Headaches and dizziness
  • Muscle weakness

Spinal stenosis may produce no symptoms at all, or the symptoms may appear slowly and then gradually worsen over time. If you think you are experiencing symptoms of spinal stenosis, it’s important to talk with a physician to confirm the diagnosis and discover the treatment options available to you. In order to help your physician make a diagnosis, here is a check list to help you determine whether or not you may have this condition:

  • Do you have occasional or frequent pain or weakness 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 walk while leaning forward on a shopping cart, does it ease your pain?
  • If you sit down and rest when you feel pain, does the pain go away?
  • Is the pain inconsistent (only happens every now and then)?

If you answered yes to four or more of these questions, it is possible that you are experiencing the symptoms of spinal stenosis. If you think you have the condition and need assurance, please consult your family physician for a checkup at your earliest convenience.

Your physician 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 physician may ask you to 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.

If you have symptoms of spinal stenosis and have tried conservative therapy with no success, USA Spine Care offers safer, effective minimally invasive alternatives to traditional open back surgery. Contact us today to hear more about our outpatient procedures, and to request a no-cost review* of your MRI to learn if you are a candidate for minimally invasive treatment at USA Spine Care.

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If you're living with spinal stenosis in the upper spine and searching for relief, reach out to USA Spine Care for help. Our multidisciplinary team is dedicated to helping people develop the right care plan to  reach treatment goals and achieve lasting relief.

Contact us today to learn more. Call toll free 1-866-249-1627.

Spinal Stenosis "Quick Answers"

Depending on the region and severity Spinal stenosis feels like tingling, burning and/or weakness in the hands, arms, neck, lower back or legs. It may also feel like a radiating pain or shooting shock-like pain. Read more in the links below: Spinal Stenosis Spinal Stenosis Overview Defining Spinal Stenosis Researching Spinal Stenosis Learning About Back Stenosis Spinal Stenosis Pathophysiology
The types of spinal stenosis are region based and consist of cervical (neck), thoracic (mid back) and lumbar or lower back. In addition, foraminal stenosis is the narrowing of the foramen. Read more in the links below: Spinal Stenosis of the Neck Cervical Stenosis - Basic Facts Neck Stenosis Causes Neck Stenosis Treatment Central Canal Stenosis Lumbar Spinal Stenosis Spinal Stenosis in the Back
Spinal Stenosis is the narrowing of the spinal canal. This condition, most often located in the Lumbar spine, may be caused by degeneration of the spine, wear and tear, sports injury, & collapsing discs. Read more in the links below. What Causes Spinal Stenosis? Obesity May Lead to a Stenosis Diagnosis Age and its Role in the Development of Spinal Stenosis Spinal Stenosis Causes Identifying Common Causes From Birth Defects to Getting Older Degenerative Conditions Car Accident Injuries
The symptoms of spinal stenosis include tingling or numbness in the extremities, pain and weakness in the neck, back and/or legs. In severe cases bladder, bowel dysfunction/continence. Learn more in the links below: What Are the Symptoms of Spinal Stenosis? Spinal Stenosis Symptoms Spinal Stenosis Diagnosis What Should I Do If I Think I Have Spinal Stenosis? Spinal Stenosis and Hand Pain Recognizing Spinal Stenosis Have You Been Diagnosed? About Your Diagnosis Diagnostic Process Helping Your Physician How a Diagnosis Is Made Arriving at a Diagnosis
Physician specialties that treat spinal stenosis include: Pain management & rehabilitation physicians, spine surgeons, orthopedic specialists & neurosurgeons. Read more about these specialties in the links below: Doctors Who Treat Spinal Stenosis Spinal Decompression Doctors
Patients can expect recovery to last 4-6 weeks in most cases (depending on the complexity of your condition). People who choose minimally invasive spine surgery recover faster and get back to work sooner than those who choose open back surgery. Read more in the links below: Recovery After a Procedure What to Expect Recovery Times

  • Problems from anesthesia.
  • A deep infection in the surgical wound.
  • A skin infection.
  • Blood clots.
  • Nerve injury, including weakness, numbness, or paralysis.
  • Tears in the fibrous tissue that covers the spinal cord and the nerve near the spinal cord. These tears may require more surgery.
  • Trouble passing urine, or loss of bladder or bowel control.
  • Long-term (chronic) pain, which happens after surgery in some cases.
  • The chance that the surgery won't relieve your symptoms. And even if you get better with surgery, there is a chance that you may get new symptoms in the future.
  • Death from problems caused by surgery, but this is rare.

Read more in the links below: Overview of Risk Factors Most Common Risk Factors Obesity & Spinal Stenosis Spinal Stenosis & Arthritis Treating Elderly Patients

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