Spinal stenosis occurs when the spaces within the spine narrow and place pressure on the nerves traveling through the spine.
This condition frequently occurs in the lower back and neck. Some living with spinal stenosis will be symptomatic, while others experience pain, tingling, numbness, and muscle weakness. While spinal stenosis occurs more prevalently in those over 50, it can affect anyone. Normal degenerative changes throughout the aging process, spinal injuries, congenital spinal deformity, and genetic diseases affecting your bone or muscular development can cause spinal stenosis to develop in younger people. There is no cure for spinal stenosis, nor is there a way to prevent it. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle and giving your body enough rest can help slow the progression of spinal stenosis.
Most people living with spinal stenosis will not need surgery. If a patient exhausts all other available treatment options for this condition and does not find pain relief, medical professionals will recommend surgery. Those living with intolerable, chronic pain from spinal stenosis or whose spinal stenosis eliminated their ability to control their bowels, bladder, or sexual functions are typically surgical candidates. Seeking treatment for spinal stenosis is imperative. When left untreated, it can cause permanent numbness, weakness, balance problems, incontinence, and paralysis. These complications, however, are rare.
Maintaining a healthy weight can help reduce pain caused by spinal stenosis, and using a cane or walker can provide stability and relieve pain when walking.
Symptoms of spinal stenosis vary depending on what type of spinal stenosis you have.
Some living with lumbar spinal stenosis will experience abnormal functioning in their bowels or bladder and loss of sexual functioning.
Before visiting your healthcare providers, document any signs and symptoms of spinal stenosis – especially their duration, frequency, and severity. Some symptoms of spinal stenosis overlap with other medical conditions, so proper documentation of all your symptoms can help your medical professional eliminate other causes of your back pain. Before conducting a physical exam, your medical professional will ask about your medical history and familial history of spinal issues and rheumatological disorders. During the physical examination, your doctor will examine the range of motion in your spine and neck, check your spine for tenderness and any deformities. They likely will check your balance, walking, and strength in your extremities. Your healthcare provider may order diagnostic tests, such as:
Your doctor may refer you to a specialist for further diagnostic tests and treatment.
The types of spinal stenosis are categorized by their spinal location, and you can suffer from more than one type of spinal stenosis.
The two most common types of this condition are:
Other types of spinal stenosis include:
Women are more likely than men to develop spinal stenosis.
Causes of spinal stenosis include:
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