Spinal canal stenosis is a narrowing of the open spaces within your spine, which can put pressure on your spinal cord and the nerves that travel through the spine to your arms and legs. Spinal stenosis occurs most often in the lower back and the neck. The symptoms are:
1. In the neck, it can cause numbness, weakness or tingling in a leg, foot, arm or hand.
2. Tingling in the hand is the most common symptom, and many people also report problems with walking and balance.
3. Nerves to the bladder or bowel may be affected, leading to incontinence.
4. Compressed nerves in your lumbar spine can cause pain or cramping in your legs when you stand for long periods of time or when you walk. The discomfort usually eases when you bend forward or sit down.
HOW IS SPINAL CANAL STENOSIS DIAGNOSED?
To diagnose spinal stenosis, the doctor will ask about medical history and conduct a physical exam. The doctor may also order one or more tests, such as:
• X rays
• Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) - a test that uses radio waves to look at the spine
• Computerized axial tomography (CAT) - a series of x rays that give the doctor a detailed image of your spine
• Myelogram - a test in which the doctor injects liquid dye into your spinal column
• Bone scan - a test in which the patients are given a shot of radioactive substance that shows where bone is breaking down or being formed.
HOW IS SPINAL CANAL STENOSIS TREATED?
The type of treatment you receive for spinal stenosis may vary, depending on the location of the stenosis and the severity of your signs and symptoms.
Medications: The following medications are used to treat this condition:
2. Muscle relaxants
4. Anti seizure medications
6. Steroid injections
Therapy: It's common for people who have spinal stenosis to become less active, in an effort to reduce pain. However, that can lead to muscle weakness, which can result in more pain. A physical therapist can teach you exercises that may help:
• Build up your strength and endurance
• Maintain the flexibility and stability of your spine
• Improve your balance
Surgery: In severe cases the following surgical options are considered:
DID YOU KNOW?
Spinal stenosis is most common in men and women over 50 years old. Younger people who were born with a narrow spinal canal or who hurt their spines may also get spinal stenosis. Changes that occur in the spine as people get older are the most common cause of spinal stenosis. As people get older:
• The bands of tissue that support the spine may get thick and hard.
• Bones and joints may get bigger.
• Surfaces of the bones may bulge out (these are called bone spurs).