Spinal stenosis is a narrowing of spaces in your spine, and it compresses the spinal cord and nerve roots. This tightened space causes the spinal cord to become irritated, compressed, or pinched leading to back pain and other symptoms. Here are some keys to understanding the signs and symptoms of spinal stenosis.
Most Common Cause of Spinal Stenosis
Osteoarthritis is the most common cause of spinal stenosis, and this normally occurs after age 50. There may be no symptoms at first, but they slowly surface. Osteoarthritis is the gradual wear and tear of our joints.
Rheumatoid arthritis, past surgery of the spine, bone diseases, a tumor, or injury to the spine are other possible causes. Women have a higher risk of developing spinal stenosis.
Signs and Symptoms of Spinal Stenosis
Pain and Weakness in the Back and Legs
The medical term for this is neurogenic claudication. This occurs when the nerves in the lower back become compressed.
These symptoms can include constant pain and/or numbness in the legs while standing. This becomes worse when walking any distance or when bending the spine backward. One will have difficulty standing up straight and performing activities standing erect, but it is relieved by bending forward like leaning on a cane, a walker, or a shopping cart. Pain can improve with rest.
Problems with Gait
If the issue is in the lumbar area of the spine, it causes weakness in the thigh and leg muscles like the quadriceps and calves.
Cervical spinal stenosis can cause balance issues when walking. However, if a pinched nerve is involved, there is no gait issue.
Weakness in a foot causes the foot to drop down and drag. Falls are common.
Loss of Sensation in the Feet
Those with spinal stenosis may experience loss of feeling in the feet.
Burning pain going into the buttocks and down the leg depending on the nerve roots affected.
Radiating Arm Pain
Mild to moderate pain with cervical spinal stenosis is felt in the neck, shoulders or arms with sensations of tingling and numbness in both hands.
Loss of Fine Motor Skills
Cervical spinal stenosis can cause trouble with fine motor skills like buttoning a shirt or even writing.