That's Good to Know- Spinal Stenosis
Updated: Nov 20, 2019
Spinal Stenosis- Part 1
Thank you for seeking out information regarding spinal stenosis. I have been a practicing physical therapist for over 30 years and have many current and former patients with mild to severe symptoms of spinal stenosis.
These are the complaints I hear from my patients…
· Standing just kills my back!!
· My legs start feeling numb while standing in the checkout lane.
· Lifting and carrying my grandchild is getting more difficult.
· I just can’t do the activities that I used to do.
· I have restless leg syndrome.
Do these complaints sound familiar? The GOOD NEWS is there is hope without surgery for people with spinal stenosis. My purpose for writing this series, “That’s Good to Know,” on spinal stenosis is to answer and explain the mysteries of this very painful, but treatable condition, thereby empower patients to manage and move wisely. By understanding the cause, movements that make it BETTER, and movements to AVOID, you can make wise decisions and OMIT the idea of surgery!
Part 1- FAQ’s Spinal Stenosis
Part 2- Things to STOP Doing
Part 3- Treatment Options
Thank you for taking the time to take care of yourself!!
Rebecca Hoeck PT, DPT, CWC, CIDN, MPT-DMI ®
FAQ’s – Spinal Stenosis
What is Spinal Stenosis?
Chronic back pain can often result in the painful degenerative condition called spinal stenosis caused by overgrowth of bone spurs in your spinal canal. Often times it is the result of a previously herniated disc and too much movement between the bones. Another cause is a thickening of ligaments caused by too much movement between the bones. The extra bone growth creates a narrowing between the already narrow spaces where the nerves exit the spinal canal and travel into the arms or legs. These nerves become crowded or commonly referred to as “pinched.” The pinched nerve can create many adverse sensations and limitations.
What does it feel like?
Some people may not have any symptoms, however, many experience pain, numbness, tingling, muscle weakness and restless leg syndrome.
Why does this happen?
It is commonly caused by normal wear and tear activities that can lead to osteoarthritis. Osteoarthritis can lead to too much movement between the bones. In response to this extra movement, which medical specialists call “instability,” the body creates an overgrowth of bone between these areas thereby creating “stability.” It’s similar to tightening screws between two objects, but the body makes more bone (bone spurs) that isn’t necessarily the right amount or in the right location. Again, unwanted bone pinching the nerves.
Other causes of narrowing include heredity (born with a narrow canal), Paget’s Disease (overgrowth of bone in the spine), herniated discs, thickened ligaments, tumors, and spinal injuries/fractures.
Where does this happen?
Spinal stenosis commonly occurs in the neck and lower back regions. These areas typically have more motion and are predisposed to herniated discs and excessive wear and tear. We call these conditions cervical stenosis (neck) and lumbar stenosis (lower back).
Cervical Stenosis symptoms:
· Numbness or tingling in arm, hand, leg or foot
· Weakness in arm or leg
· Difficulty with balance and walking
· Neck pain
· Bowel and bladder impairments
Lumbar Stenosis Symptoms:
· Numbness or tingling in leg or foot
· Weakness in leg or foot
· Cramping or pain in one or both legs with prolonged standing or walking which usually dissipates with sitting, leaning forward or lying with your feet elevated
· Back pain
· Restless leg(s)
Who typically gets Spinal Stenosis?
It is more common in people over the age of 50, those who have degenerative changes, more wear and tear, congenital spinal deformities i.e. scoliosis, spinal trauma, spine diseases and those who were born with a narrow spinal canal.
Obesity can be a complicating factor as many patients who have a high BMI (Body Mass Index) have a higher incidence of lower back pain. As stated above, lower back pain can start as a minor, short term back ache and progress into chronic conditions that might include bulging discs, degenerative disc disease, instability, pinched nerves, pain down the leg (lumbar radiculopathy), bone spur formation in the wrong place and space, AKA spinal stenosis.
Look for Spinal Stenosis Part 2 - “That’s Good to Know - Things to Stop Doing” to be published November 20, 2019.
For more information or to schedule a consultation, please contact me:
Dr. Rebecca Hoeck PT, DPT, CWC, CIDN, MPT-DMI®
19751 E Mainstreet #310
Parker, CO 80138
The information contained on the site will not treat or diagnose any disease, illness, or ailment and if you should experience any such issues you should seek the advice and examination of your registered physician or practitioner as determined by your own judgment. You understand that the information contained on the site is not a substitute for health care, medical or nutritional advice of any kind.