Your spine contains a stack of bones known as vertebrae. They give your upper body support, stability, and flexibility. Each vertebra also has a small opening. This network of spaces in your spinal column forms a protective channel that contains the delicate nerves that make up your spinal cord.
In a healthy spine, your nerves have plenty of space to pass through your spinal canal. But the openings in your vertebrae can also become more narrow, a condition known as stenosis. These changes in the spine often occur because of osteoarthritis and bone spurs. Other conditions that can cause stenosis include:
Unfortunately, if these nerves become constrained, this can trigger several unique and uncomfortable symptoms.
At Advanced Pain Management Center in Portland, Oregon, Vladimir Fiks, MD, specializes in treating nerve pain that originates in the spine. He shares these five symptoms that often indicate spinal stenosis.
One of the most common signs of stenosis involves burning pain, numbness, or weakness that radiates along the affected nerve.
When you have these symptoms in your lower body, we refer to them as sciatica. They start because of a trapped nerve in the lumbar spine, which usually causes symptoms to radiate from the lower back into the buttock, thigh, and leg on one side of the body.
Similarly, if the vertebrae in your cervical spine narrow, the symptoms may run from your neck and into a shoulder and arm.
If you find yourself leaning forward while sitting or standing, this could be a sign of stenosis. That’s because bending increases the space in your spinal canal, which may ease pressure on your trapped nerves.
Unfortunately, leaning is only a temporary solution, and you’ll likely have pain again as soon as you sit or stand up straight.
Having compressed nerves can impact your motor skills in several ways. If you have constrained nerves in your lower back, you may experience muscle weakness in your legs. This may make it difficult to lift your foot or toes, which may lead you to drag your foot or trip while walking.
You may also experience balance problems if you get a pinched nerve in your neck. While a pinched nerve in your neck may not affect your walking, it may affect your ability to maintain proper balance while moving. Stenosis in your cervical spine may also impact the fine motor skills in your hands, which may affect certain activities, such as holding a pen or buttoning your shirt.
Spinal stenosis can cause intense pain and muscle cramping with the slightest movement or activity. And, in many cases, the pain and tingling can make it difficult to perform simple tasks.
Unfortunately, stenosis is a progressive condition. That means your symptoms can start slowly and worsen with time.
Pain caused by spinal stenosis often starts quickly and fades slowly. In fact, it’s common for symptoms to become worse the longer you remain active and take several minutes to subside after you stop. You can also have symptoms that vary in intensity and come and go.
While spinal stenosis may cause life-changing symptoms, that doesn’t mean you have to learn to live with them. As an interventional pain management specialist, Dr. Fiks uses an integrative approach to easing your symptoms and restoring your quality of life.
If you have stenosis and want treatment, or if you want to see if you have stenosis, we can help. To learn more, book an appointment online or over the phone with Advanced Pain Management Center today.