usually starts gradually and develops over a long period of time. Narrowing of
the spinal canal can squeeze and irritate the
nerve roots that branch out from the spinal cord, or
it can squeeze and irritate the spinal cord itself. This may cause pain,
cramping, numbness, or weakness, most often in the legs, feet, and buttocks.
Symptoms may be severe at times and less severe at other times. You may be able
to relieve pain by changing positions. For example, leaning forward or sitting
may relieve pain, because it often reduces pressure on the
spinal cord or nerve roots. For mild to moderate
cases, nonsurgical treatment (such as medicines and exercise) can help relieve
symptoms and allow you to do normal daily activities.
stenosis occurs most often in the lower back (lumbar) area. When it does occur
in the neck (cervical spinal stenosis) region, it may cause pain,
numbness, or weakness in the arms, hands, and legs. If it is severe, you may
also have trouble controlling your bladder or bowels.
Because there are many causes of back pain, it is important for your doctor to do a thorough history and physical examination to determine if a spinal disk problem is the root of your back pain. A herniated or slipped disk may press on the nerves coming out from the spinal cord, and it may show up in a targeted neurological exam. Your doctor will check your reflexes, muscle strength, and sensation for abnormalities or changes, especially those that involve the lower extremities.
A spinal X-ray may...
of spinal stenosis varies-it may stay the same, get better, or get worse.
Severe disability is not common. But if symptoms become severe, they may not
improve without surgery. Severe symptoms may restrict your normal daily
activities and affect your quality of life. If symptoms are still severe after
a period of time of nonsurgical treatment, surgery may be considered. Surgery
may not be an option for some older adults who have other serious health
problems that make surgery too risky.