Are you beginning to notice pain, tingling, or numb feelings in your extremities? What about neck or back pain? It’s possible that these symptoms could be associated with spinal stenosis, a condition that requires a medical diagnosis and treatment. A pain specialist like Hui Kang, MD, at Houston Pain Specialists can make that determination.
At Houston Pain Specialists, we offer diagnostic testing for spinal stenosis of both the neck and the back, as well as treatment for this condition. Still, you should be aware of the symptoms of spinal stenosis and what to do if you think you have it.
The lowdown on spinal stenosis
Spinal stenosis is a condition that causes the spinal column to narrow. You feel pressure on your spinal cord, which at first may feel like nothing. Over time, though, certain symptoms, such as pain and tingling in your extremities, can begin to occur.
The two most common areas affected by spinal stenosis are the lower back and the neck. Some people are simply born with a narrow spinal column that becomes narrower with age, but spinal stenosis can be caused by other problems, too, most commonly osteoarthritis.
The condition is extremely common. As many as 35% of those who complain of back pain are suffering from this condition, according to the Harvard Medical School, and it is the most common reason for spinal surgery for men and women over the age of 65.
Recognizing spinal stenosis
The symptoms of spinal stenosis can be difficult to pin down. As we mentioned previously, some people don’t experience symptoms, especially in the early stages of the condition. And the two different types of spinal stenosis can cause slightly different symptoms.
Below we describe the differences and similarities of neck and low back spinal stenosis so you can begin to recognize where the problem might be coming from.
Symptoms of lower back spinal stenosis
Spinal stenosis that occurs in the lower back can cause numbness, weakness, or tingling in your legs or feet. This can also occur in just one foot or leg or the buttocks. It’s common to experience pain and cramping whenever you stand or walk for a long period of time.
The pain typically subsides when you sit or bend forward. Finally, lower back spinal stenosis can also be accompanied by back pain.
Symptoms of neck spinal stenosis
Spinal stenosis in the neck can cause numbness and tingling in your foot or leg as well as in your hand or arm. Weakness in the extremities (or just one extremity) is also common. You may find it difficult to balance your body properly, which can make standing and walking harder.
Most people who experience this condition also struggle with neck pain. In certain severe instances, neck spinal stenosis can cause incontinence of both the bladder and bowels.
What to do if you think you have spinal stenosis
As we said, it’s paramount that you seek medical help, because you need a doctor’s diagnosis in order to determine whether you have this condition. After Dr. Kang examines you, he determines which of the many treatments for spinal stenosis best suits your needs. These treatments may include:
- Medications such as pain relievers, opioids, and anti-seizure drugs
- Physical therapy sessions to improve your balance and your flexibility
- Steroid injections to minimize swelling and the symptoms of stenosis
- Various forms of spinal surgery
Of course, with mild spinal stenosis, we often begin with less invasive treatment options. You and Dr. Kang can discuss your condition and your individualized approach to healing. Simply call our Houston, Texas, office, to book an appointment.