Many tiny nerves come together in your spine — so spinal problems can create all sorts of strange symptoms. A nerve that's been put under pressure or pinched can leave you in pain, or you may experience tingling sensations, numbness, or sudden muscle weakness.
Spinal stenosis can create uncomfortable pressure on your spinal nerves. When you have spinal stenosis, the naturally occurring spaces in your spine narrow, pressing in on the many nerves traveling through your spine and potentially creating discomfort. While not everyone with spinal stenosis has symptoms, others experience chronic pain that just gets worse over time.
At the South Texas Spinal Clinic, our experienced staff provides top-quality spinal orthopedic care to patients in the San Antonio and South Texas area. We help many people with spinal stenosis resolve their symptoms, as well as the underlying condition.
What causes spinal stenosis?
Your spine contains bony openings (foramina) to make space for many nerves to pass through without any compression. The general process of aging, and conditions like osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis, can all compromise the structural integrity of your spine. Your spine can collapse inwards, putting pressure on your nerves as the space around them becomes reduced.
There are two main types of spinal stenosis. We distinguish between cervical stenosis, when the narrowing in your spine is located near to your neck, and lumbar stenosis. Lumbar stenosis occurs lower down your spine, with the narrowing taking place in the part of your spine located in your lower back. Stenosis problems show up most frequently in the lower back, an area also stressed by daily life motions like lifting, bending, and twisting.
Symptoms of stenosis
You may not have any symptoms of spinal stenosis, but if you do, symptoms often worsen over time, so be sure to seek medical attention as soon as you begin to suspect there's a problem.
If you have cervical stenosis, you may feel:
- Neck pain
- Numbness, tinging, or weakness in your hands, arms, feet, or legs
- Unbalanced, with trouble walking
Some severe cases also present with urinary urgency and incontinence due to bowel or bladder dysfunction.
If you have lumbar stenosis, look for symptoms including:
- Back pain
- Numbness, tingling, or weakness in your feet and legs
- Cramping in one or both of your legs after long periods standing or walking, eased by bending forward
Whether you have symptoms or not, we can diagnose your spinal stenosis with an MRI or CT scan.
Flexible treatment options
Depending on the location of your spinal stenosis and the severity of your symptoms, we have a variety of options as to how to proceed. Typically, we begin by addressing any pain problems, using cortisone injections to reduce swelling, and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) to help with your pain.
Your treatment could be mostly noninvasive physical therapy to strengthen your muscles and stretch your back. In more serious cases, we may recommend surgical procedures to create additional space in the compromised area of your spine. Surgical treatment inevitably comes with some risks, but at the South Texas Spinal Clinic, our team does everything possible to keep you comfortable and healthy through the whole treatment process.
To schedule an initial consultation with a member of our staff and get started diagnosing and treating your spinal stenosis, contact us today. You can book your appointment over the phone, or by using the online tool.