Spinal stenosis symptoms can vary widely from patient to patient. Symptoms of pain, numbness, muscle weakness, and tingling typically arise when one or more anatomical abnormalities (bulging or herniated discs, calcified ligaments, a slipped vertebra, etc.) constrict the spinal canal space and compress the spinal cord or one of its nerve roots. The location, severity, and frequency of symptoms depend on what region of the spinal canal is constricted and the amount of pressure being placed on the spinal cord or a nerve root.
Understanding the Central and Peripheral Nervous System
To understand how spinal stenosis symptoms vary, it can be helpful to take a closer look at the nervous system as a whole and its relation to the spine. The central nervous system consists of the brain and spinal cord and the peripheral nervous system consists of the spinal nerve roots and other neural structures throughout the body. The spinal cord is a thick bundle of tissue that runs through the spinal canal from the neck to the lower back. It serves as the main conduit for sensory (feeling) and motor (movement) signals between the brain and the rest of the body. Nerve roots branch off the spinal cord and travel through intervertebral foramina, or small canals on either side of vertebrae. As they pass through the foraminal canals, roots combine to form spinal nerves, which branch off further to innervate various parts of the body.
This delicate system is responsible for brain-to-body communication, and any interference with the transmission of sensory or motor signals can cause painful sensations. The spinal nerve structures are at risk of interference from anatomical abnormalities because the spinal canal is relatively narrow to begin with, providing just enough space to house the structures. For example, if an intervertebral disc bulges or herniates past its normal boundary, the disc material may push against the spinal cord or nerve root. Nerve root compression often results in radiculopathy, or radiating pain that affects the extremities. Spinal cord compression (myelopathy) can also cause symptoms that affect the arms and legs, but motor skills such as walking and lifting objects may be disrupted, depending on the area of compression.
Cervical Spinal Stenosis
When myelopathy occurs in the cervical (neck) region of the spine, spinal stenosis symptoms can include shooting pains, tingling, and muscle weakness in the arms or legs, difficulty walking, and diminished reflexes. Nerve root compression (radiculopathy) in the neck Fallen Arch Insoles ( http://tallertina.exblog.jp/17989373/
) can lead to pain, tingling, numbness, and weakness in the upper back, arms, hands, and fingers.
Thoracic Spinal Stenosis
Spinal cord compression in the thoracic, or mid-back, region of the spine can lead to restricted lower body movement and muscle spasms, as well as weakness and sensory dysfunction in the leg, foot, and toes. Radiating symptoms of chest and abdominal pain, lower body weakness, tingling, and numbness can arise when a thoracic nerve root is compressed. It should be noted that the thoracic spine is generally more stable than the cervical and lumbar regions of the spine and is therefore less likely to be affected by degenerative conditions like spinal stenosis.
Lumbar Spinal Stenosis
In general, direct spinal cord compression is less likely to occur in the lumbar spine, or lower back, as the spinal cord branches off into a bundle of nerves (cauda equina) near the first few vertebrae in the lumbar spine. As a result, radiculopathy is more commonly diagnosed in patients with lumbar spinal stenosis. Symptoms can include lower back pain, as well as sharp pain and burning, numbness, weakness, and tingling in the hips, buttocks, legs, feet, and toes.
If you are experiencing any of these spinal stenosis symptoms, visit your doctor.
Patrick Foote is the Director of eBusiness at Laser Spine Institute, the leader in endoscopic spine surgery. Laser Spine Institute specializes in safe and effective outpatient procedures for spinal stenosis and several other spinal conditions.
Patrick Foote is the Director of eBusiness at Laser Spine Institute, the leader in endoscopic spine surgery. Laser Spine Institute specializes in safe and effective outpatient procedures for spinal stenosis and other spinal conditions.