Is Spinal Stenosis Causing Your Chronic Back Pain?

Oct 12, 2022
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Back pain is a leading cause of lost time from work as well as a common issue that most adults encounter occasionally. Chronic back pain can be debilitating, interfering with all aspects of your life. Spinal stenosis may be the cause.

Your spine is the framework upon which your body is built. It’s a complex structure that offers support while providing movement and flexibility. It’s also the pathway for your body’s information highway, your spinal cord. 

Virtually all nerves that supply your body with sensation, motor control, and autonomic function pass through your spine on the way to your brain. The bones of your spine offer protection to the delicate nerve tissue that weaves intricately through your vertebrae before branching off to their final destinations. 

Sometimes, the spaces through which nerves pass can be compromised by problems such as bone spurs or herniated discs. Any narrowing of these spaces is called stenosis. It doesn’t automatically cause an issue, but if this narrowing compresses nerve tissue, it can lead to chronic back pain. 

Because of the pain signals stemming from a compressed nerve, stenosis-related back pain needs specialty care, like that offered by Pain Management 360 in Near Marshall Campus, Huntington, Hurricance, Charleston, and Barboursville, West Virginia. Dr. Rudy Malayil and his team are stenosis specialists, well-versed in related pain management treatments. 

Signs of stenosis

While stenosis can happen anywhere in your spine, it’s most common in the lumbar region, or the section commonly called the small of your back. Mild cases may produce no symptoms at all and might only be discovered through diagnostic imaging for another condition. 

When symptoms present, the specifics depend on where nerve compression occurs. Common symptoms of lumbar stenosis include: 

  • Pain at the point of nerve compression
  • Pain radiating through your buttocks and the side of your leg, called sciatica
  • Other sensations such as tingling and numbness in your leg
  • Muscle cramps in your leg
  • Muscle weakness in your leg
  • Foot drop, a muscle effect where your foot slaps down when walking
  • Numbness in your feet
  • Sexual dysfunction

Cauda equina syndrome is a rare but serious nerve compression condition at the base of your lumbar region. It can cause loss of bladder and bowel control as well as the worsening of pain and weakness symptoms in your legs or increasing numbness throughout your legs. This is a medical emergency that requires immediate treatment. 

Causes of stenosis

The most common cause of spinal stenosis is osteoarthritis, a wear-and-tear form of the joint condition. Changes to your spine from osteoarthritis typically begin in your 50s, increasing over time. Most spinal stenosis patients are over 50. 

The deterioration of vertebrae caused by osteoarthritis often starts the growth of calcium deposits called bone spurs. When these spurs grow into a nerve passageway, conditions for symptomatic stenosis begin. 

Spinal stenosis can also develop for reasons other than osteoarthritis. Rheumatoid arthritis, an autoimmune disorder, can create conditions that cause stenosis. Some bone diseases may be to blame for narrowing passageways, or an injury to your spine can involve nerve tissue. 

In some cases, you may be born with narrow nerve passages. As you get older, the effects of aging on your spine may be magnified due to less room for nerves. 

Find out more by visiting one of our four locations. You can book online or call the office of your choice directly. There’s an answer for your stenosis pain, so schedule your consultation now.