Spinal stenosis is defined as the narrowing of the bony openings within your spine. These spaces, known as the foramen and the central canal, provide a protected passageway for spinal nerves and the spinal cord. When the spaces narrow, the delicate nerves may be compressed. This can cause a variety of conditions. Some of these conditions are extremely painful and benefit from the care of a pain management clinic.
Six Symptoms of Spinal Stenosis
There are six common signs to watch for if you’re concerned about spinal stenosis. Depending on the severity and the location of the compression, you may experience more than one symptom. The pain associated with spinal stenosis can rate from mildly irritating to debilitating.
Sciatica may be the most common sign of spinal stenosis. Sciatica is described as moderate to severe pain in the lower back and down the leg. It is typically experienced on only one side of the body, but some people have sciatica in both legs at the same time. The pain is described as:
- Electric shock sensations
- Pins and needles
Discomfort may occur anywhere along the route of the sciatic nerve which runs from the lower back to the bottom of the foot.
2. Neurogenic Claudication
Persistent numbness or pain in the legs while standing may be an indication of neurogenic claudication. It is a result of compressed nerves in the lumbar spine (lower back). If pain is relieved when you bend forward, as when leaning on a shopping cart, neurogenic claudication is likely the cause. However, you still need the diagnosis of an experienced medical expert. A condition called vascular claudication exhibits very similar symptoms.
3. Foot Drop
Foot drop is described as a feeling of weakness when trying to lift the foot or point toes upward. It can result in dragging the foot while walking. There are five vertebrae in the lumbar spine. Stenosis in the fourth and fifth vertebrae, known as L4 and L5, are typically responsible for foot drop.
4. Gait Problems
Pain or difficulty walking can be caused by stenosis in the lumbar spine (lower back) and the cervical spine (neck). Changes in your gait may go unnoticed at first, but become more noticeable with time. People with gait problems may experience falls, loss of balance, foot drop, and general weakness in the thigh and leg muscles.
5. Loss of Fine Motor Skills
If you’ve noticed problems with simple tasks like buttoning a shirt or tying shoes, it could be a sign of spinal stenosis. Compression in the cervical spine can affect the nerves responsible for fine motor skills in the hands.
6. Radiating Arm Pain
Similar to sciatica, stenosis in the cervical spine can cause an electric shock-type or burning pain to radiate down the neck into the hands. The discomfort is described as weakness, tingling, numbness, a feeling of something crawling, or general pain.
Can a Pain Management Clinic Help with Spinal Stenosis?
St. Louis Pain Consultants offers several treatment options to help with the pain caused by spinal stenosis. Identifying the point of compression is a vital part of developing a customized treatment plan. Once your pain management specialist has determined which nerves and vertebrae are involved, they can recommend effective, non-invasive treatments such as an epidural nerve block or physical therapy.