Spinal stenosis symptoms

Spinal stenosis symptoms

Spinal stenosis, also called pseudo-claudication or degenerative spine disease, often shows up on MRIs or x-rays without any symptoms.  This isn’t really much of a concern, but may indicate that in the future, the individual may experience symptoms.  We’ll discuss the different spinal stenosis symptoms that commonly arise as the condition progresses below, as well as steps you can take to alleviate them.

Spinal stenosis symptoms often grow worse with time, as the health of the spine deteriorates with age.  The less severe spinal stenosis symptoms are:

  • Numbness
  • Pain along the spine
  • Radiating pain in hips, buttocks, shoulders and extremities
  • Muscle weakness
  • Weakness in part of an arm or leg
  • Stiffness

As the severity of spinal stenosis increases, so do the symptoms.  More severe indicators of spinal stenosis include poor balance or difficulty walking as well as bowel or bladder incontinence.

Severe spinal stenosis symptoms should be evaluated immediately by a doctor or other medical professional in order to rule out more serious conditions, and to evaluate potential treatment options. They include the following:

  • Poor balance
  • Difficulty walking
  • Headaches
  • Bowel incontinence
  • Bladder incontinence

In addition to the specific spinal stenosis symptoms listed above, there are a few other classic markers for the condition.  Many individuals experience a relief from spinal stenosis symptoms when sitting or leaning forward.  They may not be able to walk for long periods of time, but seated physical activities such as riding a bicycle can be completed without much pain or discomfort.

Spinal stenosis symptoms are the result of pressure being placed on the spinal cord, nerve clusters, or individual nerves as a result of the space constriction caused by the condition.  They appear gradually, worsening as the space available for neural tissue is impinged on by bone, ligament, discs, or in some cases, tumors.

In the majority of cases, spinal stenosis symptoms can be treated using non-invasive methods.  After confirming a suspected diagnosis of spinal stenosis by reviewing diagnostic imagery such as x-rays and MRI images, your doctor will begin to design a treatment plan for your individual case.  He or she may suggest that you begin treatment by taking an over the counter oral analgesic (pain reliever) such as ibuprofen or naproxen sodium.  For individuals who are interested in alternative therapies, acupuncture, massage, and chiropractic therapy are also often effectively used at this stage.  Exercise, stretching, and rest are also very effective for early spinal stenosis.

If you have already tried more conservative methods such as those described in the preceding paragraph, your doctor will most likely prescribe you a stronger pain medication.  You may also be advised to pursue physical therapy or receive steroid injections.

Modern surgical techniques allow for the treatment of spinal stenosis symptoms by removing the affected tissues, and allowing the nerves and spinal cord the room that they need.  Surgery should always be your last resort, however. The risks of spinal surgery are significant, and should not be taken lightly.  Make sure to exhaust all other options before pursuing this treatment option.

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