Spinal health is a crucial concern because it affects your mobility and quality of life. But spinal stenosis is a condition that can affect both. It develops slowly over time as spaces within your spine narrow down. This lack of space affects your spinal cord and nerves, and they may become compressed, pinched, or irritated. The condition is mostly age-related and happens due to natural wear-and-tear, but you can minimize the effects with timely detection, diagnosis, and treatment. It is vital to understand the early symptoms of spinal stenosis so that you can get medical attention on time. Here are the ones you must watch out for.
Lower back pain
If you suffer from lower back pain while standing or moving, there are good chances that you suffer from spinal stenosis. The duration and intensity vary from person to person. Some patients experience tenderness or a dull ache, while others report burning or electric-like sensations. The pain may be erratic, so you can expect it to come and go. These signs indicate that you must get help sooner rather than later.
Another sign you may experience is sciatica, which is characterized by nerve pain and weakness. The pain or weakness typically occurs in one leg at a time. The sensation may also reach your lower back, buttock, thigh, and foot, depending on the affected nerve roots. Other indications include a pins-and-needles sensation, numbness, and tingling in the affected areas.
Pain and numbness in the legs
The compression of nerves in your lower back can result in neurogenic claudication in your legs. It can cause persistent pain in your legs while standing or walking, and it may be accompanied by numbness. You may even face difficulty in performing upright exercises. While rest can help, it is best to visit a pain management clinic for a lasting solution. Experts can provide a proper diagnosis as it is often hard to differentiate neurogenic claudication from vascular claudication.
Radiating arm pain
Another sign you must take seriously is radiating arm pain because it could be an early symptom of cervical spinal stenosis. The pain replicates mild to moderate burning or shock-like sensations in the neck and shoulder. It can reach out to your arms, and they may feel weak. Look out for other abnormal sensations, such as crawling, tingling, and numbness in both hands.
Gait and balance problems
Spinal stenosis can also affect your gait and balance, depending on the location within your spine. Lumbar spinal stenosis affects the lower back area. It results in gait issues, along with weakness in the thigh and leg muscles. Conversely, cervical spinal stenosis compresses the nerves in the neck and disrupts your balance. You may miss gait and balance changes initially, but they become more pronounced as the disease progresses.
If you notice one or more of these signs, you must see an expert at the earliest. It is possible to resolve the condition without surgical intervention if you start to exercise and pain management at an early stage. Moreover, you can retain mobility and stay active despite the problem.