Symptoms of Spinal Stenosis Are Easy to See and Can Be Serious If You do Not ActSymptoms of Spinal Stenosis Are Easy to See and Can Be Serious If You do Not Act https://phoenixspineandjoint.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/04/Layer-1-1-1024x578.png 1024 578 Phoenixspine Web Phoenixspine Web https://secure.gravatar.com/avatar/18bf1f504dd89d08379e7d365cb1d4a5?s=96&d=mm&r=g
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Symptoms of spinal stenosis are easy to see and can be serious if you do not act. Dr. Ann Cheri Foxx explains:
Spinal stenosis means narrowing of the spinal canal. In the lower back, the narrowing that is normal with age can become severe and cause pain in the legs with walking. By bending over people with spinal stenosis are trying to open up their spinal canal and make more room. You can see it in the supermarket, where patients lean over the shopping cart to relieve the pain and weakness in their legs caused by walking. If the pain becomes severe you must rest. After a few minutes the nerve roots recover, and you can go again.
It is scary when you cannot do the things you are used to. Like going to the supermarket. The thing is, that fear is there for a reason. It protects you. It is telling you something. It’s time to get evaluated by a doctor. If you have a good relationship with your primary care doctor or chiropractor, then start with them. The important thing is to get evaluated. Because, if you do not, things can truly get scary.
Gulp. Paralysis? Frankly, after bowel and bladder problems have begun you have already waited too long. You need to pull the emergency stop rope on your life and take care of yourself before you get permanent damage. You want to be there for the other people in your life, right? The hard truth is that you cannot help others if you will not help yourself first.
“Pain with walking for any period of time can also be a symptom of spinal stenosis”—Ann Cherie Foxx, MD Pain Management Specialist.
Not everyone who has pain in their legs has spinal stenosis. Leg pain with walking is also caused by clogged leg arteries. Your doctor can screen for this condition by comparing the blood pressure taken in your arms to that in your legs. The ratio of the two blood pressures is called the Ankle Brachial Index. If you have cold feet and pain in your legs while walking, ask your doctor to test your ABI.
In the bad old days patients with spinal stenosis became so weak they would end up bedbound, paralyzed, and then die of a urinary tract infection. We are not going to let that happen to you. Spinal stenosis is progressive. Once it starts, it just gets worse. So, if you think you may have it, you need to get it checked out before it gets too late.
Spinal stenosis is suspected based on your symptoms, but the diagnosis is confirmed with an MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) scan of your low back. No one likes being squeezed inside an MRI, but it is worth it. The good news is that when they scan your low back your head stays out of the machine. Even people who are afraid of small spaces don’t feel unsafe if their head is out. It is loud. But the whole study only takes about thirty minutes. And the images could save your life.
Under normal conditions, there is plenty of room in the spinal canal for your spinal cord or nerve roots. With age, the facet joints, which form the wall of the spinal canal, enlarge. When the walls come together the room gets smaller. The narrowing of the spinal canal due to stenosis causes compression of the spinal cord or nerve roots.
So, you had pain down your legs, and MRI shows you have moderate or severe spinal stenosis. Now what?
Shots will not work. Studies have shown that epidural injection is not an effective treatment for spinal stenosis. However, in the initial stages, many of the symptoms of spinal stenosis are relieved by exercise. As the condition progresses https://phoenixspineandjoint.com/spine/treatments/lumbar-laminectomy/ is recommended for those who are medically fit to undergo anesthesia and outpatient surgery.
The hardest thing about laminectomy surgery is getting up the courage to have it. Laminectomy is one of the most common surgeries in America, but any surgery on your back is scary. Most people are pleasantly surprised that they are sore but not in real pain afterward. Medicare and private insurance both cover lumbar laminectomy surgery. Whew. The last thing you want to worry about is how to pay for life-saving surgery. Oh, and you do not have to risk COVID-19 by going to the hospital. At Phoenix Spine and Joint laminectomy surgery is done in our ambulatory surgery centers.
If you have pain in your legs while walking, then call us. Our staff will arrange for you to come in to see a pain management physician. They will examine you, obtain the appropriate imaging such as MRI of your low back, establish the appropriate diagnosis, and start you on a course of treatment designed to fit you.
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