Spine Care

Spinal Stenosis Symptoms Early Diagnosis and Treatment

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Recognizing and understanding common and not-so-common neck and low back spinal stenosis symptoms can help get an early diagnosis and begin a preventative treatment plan. Symptoms develop when the spinal canal begins to narrow. The nerve roots become compressed/pinched, causing:

  • Neural irritation
  • Inflammation
  • Pain

This age-related and progressive disorder commonly affects the low back and neck. Symptoms can inhibit the ability to move without discomfort, pain, and neurological issues like tingling sensations and numbness that spreads out or radiates into other body parts.

Low Back Spinal Stenosis Symptoms

The most common symptom of spinal stenosis is pain in the:

  • Low back
  • Buttock area
  • Back of the thigh gets worse when standing and walking.

These symptoms are called neurogenic claudication. Some individuals with low back and spinal stenosis experience symptoms only when standing or moving/walking around. Discomfort usually eases up when bent forward and goes away when the individual sits down. Example: Grocery shopping feels a lot better when leaning forward on the cart’s handle, with reduced pain. This is common for people with spinal stenosis in the low back. Pain that goes away and reduces when bending forward, sitting down, or lying down is common for low back spinal Stenosis.

Understanding that claudication is not neurogenic or pseudo-claudication is important. Claudication symptoms are similar to pseudo-claudication; however, the cause is different. Claudication is caused by the blood not circulating properly in the leg muscles. Other symptoms are low back pain and low back spreading pain or radiculopathy.

Better known as sciatica, lumbar radiculopathy involves:

  • Pain
  • Numbness
  • Weakness
  • Tingling/numbing sensations travel down from the lower back into the buttock/s and leg/s.

Some individuals experience pain in both legs, with one leg having worse pain than the other.

Bowel/Bladder emergency:

There can be severe cases of lumbar spinal Stenosis where the nerves that control the bladder or bowel can get compressed, leading to partial or complete incontinence. If problems are controlling the bladder or bowel, seek immediate medical attention.

Neck Spinal Stenosis Symptoms

Spinal Stenosis symptoms in the neck can cause cervical radiculopathy. This can include pain along with:

  • Tingling sensations
  • Numbness
  • Weakness

These symptoms may radiate downward from your neck into one or both shoulders, arms, and/or hands. The pain caused by cervical spinal Stenosis has been described as:

  • Acute
  • Episodic
  • Occasional
  • Chronic

The intensity can go from mild to severe along with other symptoms that include:

  • Headache/s
  • Balance issues with a higher risk of falling
  • Fine Motor skills like writing, buttoning up a shirt/blouse, and computer keyboarding skills can become affected.

With severe cervical spinal stenosis, symptoms can be associated with cervical myelopathy. Cervical myelopathy happens when the spinal canal narrows so much that it compresses the spinal cord in the neck. Pinched nerves in the neck can affect the shoulders, arms, and hands. Myelopathy can affect both the arms and legs.

Symptoms of cervical myelopathy can include:

  • Neck pain
  • Stiffness
  • Tingling sensations
  • Numbness
  • Weakness
  • Clumsiness
  • Balance issues
  • Difficulty walking
  • Bowel and Bladder problems
  • Sexual dysfunction

Symptoms Don’t Always Present

Imaging studies like MRI and CT scans can detect a spinal disorder from an individual with no symptoms. This is why imaging tests are performed to confirm a diagnosis. This is supported by results from the physical/ neurological exams, medical history, and symptoms.

Those who have undergone an x-ray or other imaging test for a non-spinal related issue could have discovered they have spondylosis, osteophytes, and a herniated disc. However, they never knew it because they showed no symptoms. Spinal stenosis is usually an age-related and gradual process of physical change. It can take time for symptoms to show themselves. If you have neck or low back pain symptoms that worsen, speak with your doctor.


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The information herein on "Spinal Stenosis Symptoms Early Diagnosis and Treatment" is not intended to replace a one-on-one relationship with a qualified health care professional or licensed physician and is not medical advice. We encourage you to make healthcare decisions based on your research and partnership with a qualified healthcare professional.

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Our information scope is limited to Chiropractic, musculoskeletal, acupuncture, physical medicines, wellness, contributing etiological viscerosomatic disturbances within clinical presentations, associated somatovisceral reflex clinical dynamics, subluxation complexes, sensitive health issues, and/or functional medicine articles, topics, and discussions.

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email: coach@elpasofunctionalmedicine.com

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