More About Spinal Stenosis

woman Suffering From Backache And HeadacheIn April’s first springy blog we covered a couple basics of a condition that causes many patients to come see us at DFW Center for Spinal Disorders — spinal stenosis. This narrowing of the spinal canal and the foramen cramps the space of the spinal cord and the nerve roots exiting the spinal cord, and compressed nerves are not happy nerves. Pain is the result, and it is often chronic and debilitating.

Let’s get into spinal stenosis more in April’s second blog for DFW.

What Are the Signs and Symptoms of Spinal Stenosis?

In almost all cases, symptoms of spinal stenosis build gradually. In some people, the nerves can become a little squeezed, but they never exhibit any symptoms. But for most, as compression increases, so will the person’s pain caused by that nerve. Pain from stenosis often becomes chronic.

Symptoms with cervical or thoracic spinal stenosis:

  • Issues with balance gait (thoracic)
  • Tingling, weakness, and clumsiness with the hands (cervical)

Stenosis affects the lumbar spine the most. These bottom five vertebrae heading down into the hips bear the highest loads, leading to these stenosis symptoms:

  • Pain when walking
  • Occasional pain, burning, and numbness in the buttocks or legs
  • Weakness in the legs
  • Lower back pain, particularly when moving
  • Foot drop, a problem lifting the front part of the foot

These symptoms arise from nerves being compressed by bone spurs, bulging spinal discs, or enlarged ligaments. As stenosis progresses, it can lead to problems controlling the bowels. As with all nerve compression, if not addressed the initial pain can eventually become permanent damage. When that happens, the person will lose control of the muscle or muscles served by the damaged nerve.

How Is Spinal Stenosis Diagnosed?

Dr. Tinley looks at the patient’s medical history, timeline of symptoms, and other medical conditions (such as arthritis) first. If he suspects stenosis, he’ll likely order imaging tests such as:

  • X-rays — Can show bone spurs and loss of disc volume.
  • MRIs — Provides images of soft tissues, including nerves, discs, and ligaments that run through the spinal cord.
  • CT scans — Can indicate damage or weakness in the spine as CT scans create cross-section images of the spine.
  • Myelograms — These tests use dye to highlight nerve passageways.

If you have the chronic pain of spinal stenosis, you don’t need to live with it. Call Dr. Tinley at DFW, (817) 916-4685, to schedule a consultation.

Posted in: Spinal Stenosis

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