It’s normal to experience some aches and pains as we age, but when pain, numbness and weakness interfere with your golf game or your daily walk, it could be something more serious.
What is Spinal Stenosis?
Spinal stenosis is defined as narrowing of the open spaces in your spine, causing pressure on the nerves that travel through the openings. It can occur anywhere in the spinal canal, but it is most common in the lower back (called lumbar stenosis) and neck (called cervical spinal stenosis).
What Causes Spinal Stenosis?
Spinal stenosis is part of the normal aging process, but not everyone develops the condition. Typical causes of the condition include:
- Arthritis or inflammation of the spine
- Bone diseases
- Careers that put greater demand on the back, such as professional athletes or manual laborers
- Congenital condition, such as a growth in the spine that has been present from birth
- Family history of spinal stenosis or other back problems
- Herniated or slipped disk
- Injury that causes pressure on the nerve roots or the spinal cord
- Tumors in the spine
What are the symptoms of Spinal Stenosis?
At first your symptoms may be slight but will increase over time. Most people experience worsening symptoms when they stand or walk. The most common symptoms of spinal stenosis include:
- Difficulty with coordination
- Loss of bladder or bowel function
- Pain in either the arms or legs, usually on only one side
- Poor balance
- Weakness in either arms or legs or both
How is Spinal Stenosis treated?
Most physicians recommend conservative management for all types of back pain, including spinal stenosis. Treatment options may include:
- Epidural injections or nerve blocks.
- Medications or steroid injections to help reduce inflammation.
- Physical therapy, including range of motion exercises.
- Reducing your level of physical activity.
- Spinal surgery, as a last resort, to relieve pressure on the nerves.
If you are experiencing any symptoms of spinal stenosis, talk to your doctor. If you don't have a doctor, we can help you find one.
With proper diagnosis and a treatment plan, patients suffering from spinal stenosis can go on to live pain-free lives.
To learn more about the Neuroscience Center at IU Health, click here.