Stenosis is a fancy word meaning to narrow, and during spinal stenosis the area surrounding our spine and nerves narrows and contracts, causing painful pinching. This pinching can often be felt in our neck and back, making it difficult to move around normally.
Spinal stenosis can arise as we age, and the bones and cartilage in our back declines, or if our spinal canal is tighter from birth.
We may feel pain from spinal stenosis in our neck, through our arms and legs, and in our back, depending on the part of the spine most affected. This nerve pain may also make it difficult to hold or work with small objects like utensils, or to walk. Other symptoms include:
- Feeling hot or cold
- Loss of muscle strength
- Unusual clumsiness
Neck and back pain can arise from a variety of causes, so imaging tests such as X-rays, MRI, and CT scans are often needed to view the spinal column in greater detail and correctly diagnose spinal stenosis.
Providers will often treat the pain caused by spinal stenosis by reducing the inflammation around the nerves. Medications such as ibuprofen may be recommended, as well as rest, targeted exercises, or physical therapy. Excess weight can also put increased pressure on the spine, so losing weight can be effective in managing the pain.
For more serious cases or instances when your pain does not respond to traditional treatments, you and your provider may discuss surgical options to decrease the pressure on your spinal nerves.
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