One cause of back pain is spinal stenosis. Stenosis means abnormal narrowing. The spinal canal contains and protects the spinal nerve roots. In spinal stenosis, the spinal canal narrows and pinches the spinal cord and nerves. This causes low back pain and pain in the legs. Stenosis may pinch the nerves that control muscles and sensation in the legs. This leads to pain and abnormal feelings in the leg muscles and areas supplied by those nerves.
Spinal stenosis often happens to people as they get older and arthritic boney growths occur in their spinal canal. There is also a loss of the disk height between the bones of the back, which also adds to this problem. Sometimes the problem is present at birth.
- Pain that is generally worse with activities, particularly standing and walking.
- Numbness, tingling, hot or cold feelings, weakness, or a weariness in the legs.
- Clumsiness, frequent falling, and a foot-slapping gait, which may come as a result of nerve pressure and muscle weakness.
- Your doctorr may suspect spinal stenosis if you have unusual leg symptoms, such as those previously mentioned.
- Your doctor may request special imaging exams, such a computerized magnetic scan (MRI) or computerized X-ray scan (CT) to find out the cause of the problem.
- Sometimes treatments such as postural changes or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs will relieve the pain.
- Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications may help relieve symptoms. These medicines do this by decreasing swelling and inflammation in the nerves.
- In severe cases or those that are progressively worsening, surgical decompression may be necessary. Dr. Tarak Patel will only recommend surgery when nonsurgical treatment options fail to improve the symptoms. Depending on the patient’s condition decompression of the spine may require only a minimally invasive laminotomy or traditional laminectomy sometimes combined with spinal fusion.