Spinal Stenosis is a narrowing in the spinal canal of the lower back or neck which can put pressure on the spinal cord or nerves. Generally, a patient will complain of moderate to severe pain in the legs and lower back when standing or walking. Pain may come on quickly and is usually lessened with rest or leaning forward.
In the case of congenital stenosis, a patient is born with a small spinal canal. More typically, patients present with acquired spinal stenosis which is caused due by age-related changes to the spinal canal. Both genders are more at risk of developing spinal stenosis if:
- You are over 50
- You have had a previous spinal injury
- You have osteoarthritis, bone spurs or a herniated disc
Upon visiting your doctor, you’ll be asked for a rundown of your symptoms and a medical history. On your physical examination, your doctor will look for:
- Numbness, weakness, cramping, or pain in the legs, thighs, or feet
- Pain radiating down the leg
- Abnormal bowel or bladder function
Your doctor may order tests such as X-rays, CAT scans, MRIs, and EMG to confirm diagnosis and determine the severity of your stenosis.
Treatment is generally nonsurgical and may include exercise to help build and maintain muscle strength, improve balance, and control pain. Certain medications such as over-the-counter pain relievers or NSAIDs may be recommended to relieve pain and muscle spasms. Steroid injections have been shown to provide temporary relief.
Surgery may be recommended in patients with severe or worsening symptoms. Surgery will remove any bone spurs or bone buildup in the spinal canal which will create space for nerves and spinal cord. Your surgeon may perform a spinal fusion to connect vertebrae and improve stability.