What Are The Symptoms Of Lumbar Spinal Stenosis
Early lumbar spinal stenosis may have no symptoms. In most people, symptoms develop gradually over time. Symptoms may include:
- Pain in the back
- Burning pain going into the buttocks and down into the legs
- Numbness, tingling, cramping, or weakness in the legs
- Loss of sensation in the feet
- A weakness in a foot that causes the foot to slap down when walking
- Loss of sexual ability
Pressure on nerves in the lumbar region can also cause more serious symptoms known as cauda equine syndrome. If you have any of these symptoms, you need to get medical attention right away:
- Loss of bowel or bladder control
- Severe or increasing numbness between your legs, inner thighs, and back of the legs
- Severe pain and weakness that spreads into one or both legs. This makes it hard to walk or get out of a chair
Testing For Piriformis Syndrome
Because piriformis syndrome symptoms mimic those of sciatica, your medical provider will perform specific tests to determine whether your symptoms are discogenic or caused by an impingement of the sciatic nerve by the piriformis muscle.
Your provider should examine your low back, hip, pelvis and sacroiliac joint and check your gait, posture and leg length. Theyll also test your reflexes, which should be normal if you have piriformis syndrome.
Your provider will manipulate your leg to check for piriformis syndrome.
Other signs of piriformis syndrome include:
When testing for pain or weakness in specific positions, your provider will conduct each test until you experience symptoms or for up to 60 seconds, whichever comes first.
In addition to a physical exam, you might also need imaging to rule out other causes for your symptoms. Your doctor may order X-rays, an MRI, or a CT scan. In addition, injections into the piriformis muscle may be used to confirm the diagnosis, while simultaneously helping with treatment.
Once you pin down the source of your pain, you can move forward with treatment, which typically consists of NSAIDs and physical therapy. Although you might be inclined to rest, wait, and see what happens, the sooner you find the root of your issues, the sooner you can get back to pain-free living.
Piriformis syndrome or sciatica? Get a proper diagnosis find a spine specialist near you who can help.
Where Sciatic Pain Is Coming From
- L4 NERVE ROOT DAMAGEApinched nerve root in the L4 section of the vertebral column usually results in radiating pain in the thigh. This pain can come in the form of numbness, tingling, weakness and shooting. Radiculopathy of the L4 nerve root can also cause this pain to extend into the lower leg, ankle and foot. In addition, patients may experience difficultly moving the foot in an upward motion.
- L5 NERVE ROOT DAMAGEA pinched L5 nerve root usually results in radiating pain in the foot. This pain can come in the form of numbness, tingling, weakness and shooting and is commonly felt in the big toe, inside of the foot, top of the foot and ankle. Radiculopathy of the L5 nerve may also cause loss of coordination in the foot and toes.
- S1 NERVE ROOT DAMAGE:A pinched nerve in the S1 section of the vertebral column usually results in radiating pain down the backside of the leg and into the outside of the foot. This pain can come in the form of numbness, tingling, weakness and shooting. S1 nerve root Radiculopathy may cause pain or numbness in the little toe and top of the foot. Consequently, patients find it difficult to stand on their tip-toes or raise their heel off the ground.
Also Check: Can You Die From Slitting Your Wrist
Why Spinal Stenosis Causes Back Problems And What Are The Possible Reasons
Spinal stenosis is a narrowing of the gaps within your spine that can cause strain on the nerves that run through it. Spinal stenosis affects the lower back and neck.
Some patients with spinal stenosis may not experience any symptoms. Others could feel discomfort, tingling, numbness, or muscular weakness. Symptoms might increase with time.
Spinal stenosis is most typically caused by osteoarthritis wear-and-tear alterations in the spine. In severe forms of spinal stenosis, doctors may advise surgery to provide extra space for the spinal cord or nerves.
Spinal stenosis can develop anywhere on the spine, although it is most frequent in two places:
1. The lower back .
2. The neck .
In this blog, we will discuss why spinal stenosis causes back problems and what are the possible reasons.
1. Bone Overgrowth
Osteoarthritis is a wear and tear condition that causes the cartilage in your joints, especially your spine, to break down. Cartilage is the joints protective covering. Your body reacts by producing new bones. Bone spurs, or bone overgrowth, are a common occurrence. Vertebral bone spurs expand into the spinal canal, limiting the space and compressing nerves in the spine.
2. Bulging Disks
3. Thickened Ligaments
The tight fibers that help keep your spines bones together might stiffen and grow over time. These swollen ligaments have the potential to extend into the spinal canal(ligament flavum
Pearls And Other Issues
Clinicians should always look for and inquire about red flags when evaluating sciatica or in patients who present with any low back pain. Simple sciatica is a benign disease, and the presence of red flags would prompt much more consideration of the differential diagnosis to ensure a more serious underlying medical or surgical cause of the back pain is not present. A history of IV drug abuse is a risk for epidural abscess and seeding of bacteria anywhere in the body . Additionally, those with HIV, diabetes, or who are immunocompromised have a much higher risk of all infections, and epidural abscess must be considered. Any history of bowel or bladder incontinence, urinary retention, or lower extremity weakness suggests acute neurologic deficit and should prompt a more aggressive workup. Anticoagulant use is a risk for all sources of bleeding, including epidural abscess. A history of trauma, malignancy, or tuberculosis may suggest fracture, metastasis, and more serious causes of the back pain should be ruled out before a simple diagnosis of sciatica is used. And lastly, fevers, night sweats, chills would not be typical symptoms seen in simple sciatica and thus should prompt further consideration in the workup.
Also Check: Is It Painful To Cut Your Wrist
Common Sciatica Cause #: Lumbar Bulging Disc Or Herniated Disc
The discs in the spine serve several functions, including giving the spine its flexibility, acting as cushions for the vertebrae, and evenly transferring the load placed on the spine from one disc to another. Disc bulging and herniation occur more frequently in the lumbar spine simply because that part of the spine supports the entire weight of the upper body as well as whatever objects you may need to pick up.
Bulging and herniated discs are almost the same, but not quite. A bulging disc is a contained disc disorder. The gel-like center of the disc remains “contained” within the tire-like outer wall of the disc but can extend the outer wall enough to press on a nearby nerve or nerve root.
A herniated disc occurs when the nucleus breaks through the annulus fibrosus. It is called a non-contained disc disorder. Whether a disc bulges or herniates, disc material can press against an adjacent nerve root and compress delicate nerve tissue and cause sciatica. This compression can occur on only one side of the sciatic nerve and cause symptoms on only one side of the body or compress it on both sides and give you symptoms on both sides of the body .
A Simple Stretch For Sciatica Caused By Spinal Stenosis
Sciatica refers to nerve pain originating from the sciatic nerve roots in your lower spine. It can be caused by an injury or by several different underlying orthopedic diagnoses. So, when it comes to treating your sciatica, it is important to tailor your treatment plan to the specific medical diagnosis causing your symptoms.
Recommended Reading: Stomach Pain Pregnancy Symptoms
Can Spinal Stenosis Cause Pain In My Groin Hip Thigh And Calf
Yes, this is certainly possible. If your spinal stenosis is pinching your sciatic nerve a nerve that originates in your lower spine you might feel pain or have numbness, tingling or muscle weakness along this nerves pathway from your lower back, down your leg to your foot. This condition is known as sciatica.
Spinal Stenosis Home Remedies
Some things you can do to help ease symptoms of spinal stenosis include:
- Exercise. Think about moderation. Just take a 30-minute walk every other day. Talk over any new exercise plan with your doctor.
- Apply heat and cold. Heat loosens up your muscles. Cold helps heal inflammation. Use one or the other on your neck or lower back. Hot showers are also good.
- Practice good posture.Stand up straight, sit on a supportive chair, and sleep on a firm mattress. And when you lift heavy objects, bend from your knees, not your back.
- Lose weight.Extra pounds put added pressure on your back.
Recommended Reading: Workouts To Do With A Broken Wrist
How Back Flexion Exercises Promote Pain
Regular flexion stretches promote:
- Temporary opening of the joint spaces in your lumbar spine
- Improved hamstring and lumbar mobility
- Relief from prolonged extended positions
It is advised to learn back flexion stretches from a doctor or certified physical therapist, who can guide your form and posture. If you feel pain while performing the stretch or after engaging in this exercise, inform your treating doctor or therapist immediately.
Sciatica Pain: Causes And Symptoms
Sciatica isnt a specific condition, but rather a term used to describe symptoms of other lower back conditions. This can include bulging and herniated discs, etc. Sciatica pain is associated with the sciatic nerve which runs down the upper and lower back, through the buttocks, and down both legs. The sciatic nerve is the largest nerve in the human body.
Irritation to the sciatic nerve can cause sciatica which can cause pain and discomfort anywhere on the nerve. Frequently, sciatica results in lower back pain, burning, tingling, numbness and pain in the legs and buttocks.
Side sleeping can aggravate sciatica pain. Typically when side sleeping, your legs do not stay aligned vertically, meaning that the top leg usually drops forward and down, causing your pelvis to rotate.
This places strain on the sacroiliac joint or SI Joint and can cause compression of the sciatic nerve. Compression causes it to become irritated and inflamed. This usually causes pain in the lower back or pain that radiates through the buttocks and down your leg. This can also take the form of an intermittent shooting pain. Sciatic pain can radiate to the foot and toes depending on which nerve is compressed. Sciatic pain usually only affects one side of the body at a time.
Sciatica symptoms often include:
Disc Herniations and spinal stenosis can further aggravate sciatic pain and low back pain or Lumbar pain.
Don’t Miss: Is It Painful To Cut Your Wrist
Nonsurgical Treatment For Coccydynia
Fortunately, conservative therapy is extremely effective for coccydynia. In fact, 90% of people experience a reduction in pain using nonsurgical means or without any medical intervention.
Coccydynia is usually first treated with these noninvasive methods:
- An ice pack orheating pad can help provide immediate, short-term relief.
- A donut or wedge cushion provides extra padding to take pressure off your coccyx while sitting. These special cushions are readily available at retail pharmacies.
- Avoid extended sitting will help prevent additional pain and injury.
- Rest also plays an important part to help avoid further injury to the tailbone during recovery.
If you still have tailbone pain after trying these conservative therapies, your doctor may recommend over-the-counter or prescription-strength or other pain medications for relief. If your pain isnt responding to oral medication, your doctor may give you a cortisone injection or local spine nerve block to send powerful pain relief directly to your tailbone area.
Common Sciatica Cause #: Disc Degeneration
Technically disc degeneration is more a risk factor for herniated discs than a cause of sciatica, but it leads to sciatica so often wed be remiss to exclude it.
Disc degeneration, or degenerative disc disease , is an extremely common and almost inevitable part of aging. Over timeyears and decadesintervertebral discs undergo a drying out process called disc desiccation. The water content in the discs drop, which makes them weaker, more brittle, and more prone to herniation.
Although DDD is incredibly prevalent and almost unavoidable, there are some lifestyle modifications you can make to reduce your risk of or slow down disc degeneration, such as:
- Practicing proper lifting mechanics
Also Check: Is It Painful To Cut Your Wrist
When To See A Doctor
The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases recommend that a person sees a doctor right away if they have lower back pain and constipation together.
Anyone who experiences frequent bouts of constipation or unexplained instances of lower back pain should also talk to a doctor.
If lower back pain and constipation occur at the same time due to a single underlying condition, a doctor will recommend an appropriate treatment for it.
In less serious cases, there are several things that a person can do at home to relieve constipation and lower back pain when they occur together:
If symptoms remain despite home treatments, a person should see their doctor.
Can Alternative Treatments Such As Acupuncture Or Chiropractics Help Relieve Pain From Spinal Stenosis
Acupuncture and chiropractic manipulation may help relieve mild pain in some people with spinal stenosis. Its important to keep in mind that similar to other nonsurgical treatments, these alternative therapies dont improve the narrowing of the spinal canal. Also, chiropractic manipulation must be used in the proper person. For instance, manipulation may worsen symptoms or cause other injuries if a herniated disk is the cause of your spinal stenosis. That being said, alternative therapies are increasingly popular and are used to treat and manage all kinds of pain. Be sure to ask your healthcare provider if these alternative treatments as well as others, like yoga, massage or biofeedback, may be safe and appropriate to manage the cause of your spinal pain.
Don’t Miss: Does Lidocaine Work For Nerve Pain
Common Sciatica Cause #: Spondylolisthesis
Spondylolisthesis is a disorder that most often affects the lumbar spine. It occurs when one vertebra slips forward over an adjacent vertebra. When the vertebra slips and is displaced, it presses on the nerves or nerve roots below it. This ultimately causes compression and often results in sciatica symptoms.
Youre either born with developmental spondylolisthesis or it develops during childhood. On the other hand, acquired spondylolisthesis can be caused by:
- Parts of the spine breaking down over time
- Physical stress from activities like weightlifting or gymnastics
- Trauma, such as from a car accident
On physical examination, the patient will often complain of increased back pain when arching into extension due to irritation of the facet joints. The diagnosis can often be made with simple plain radiographssuch as an X-raydone in the standing posture, says Dr. Subach.
What Is Spinal Stenosis
Spinal stenosis refers to a narrowing of the spinal column. As the column begins to narrow, the vertebrae will compress the spinal nerve. Symptoms include pain, weakness, and numbness. Spinal stenosis is often gradual and can cause leg pain. More extreme cases can affect bowel and bladder function. Spinal stenosis is degenerative and typically affects individuals age 60 and older. Herniated discs, spinal injuries, and genetic conditions can also cause spinal stenosis.
You May Like: Blueberry Benefits For Stomach
Does Sciatica Cause Knee Pain
Knee pain that cannot be traced back to a physical injury may be caused by a problem in your lower back. The muscles around your knees are powered by nerves that originate in your lower spine. Irritation or compression of these nerves at their spinal origin causes symptoms, commonly known as sciatica, which may include knee pain and/or weakness.
Sciatica is nerve pain that originates in the lower back and radiates down the buttock to the thigh and leg on one side. Watch:Sciatica Overview Video
Read on to learn about how knee pain may feel in sciatica as well as common examples of lower back and other conditions that mimic sciatica pain in the knee.
Can Spinal Problems Cause Abdominal Pain
The spinal cord in adults runs through a hollow protective bony cavity through the vertebral column. It drives from the foramen magnum of the skull to the lower margin of the first lumbar vertebrae. In between the vertebrae joints, the ventral and dorsal nerve roots of the spinal nerves leave the spinal cord.
These spinal nerves, numbering about thirty-one, conduct motor innervations to the peripheral muscles. They also carry sensory inflows from peripheral organs like the skin to the brain. These nerves carry the sensations for pain and temperature, fine and crude touches, pressure, proprioception, etc.
The majority of the bodys sensory signals are from the organs connected to the walls of the body cavities. The visceral aka organs inside the cavities are in contrast, not much innervated for sensory stimulus. You can elicit pain from the abdominal visceral on superficial palpation. Visceral pains can also be referred to as the somatic innervation of their shared spinal nerve roots. It also answers when you will ask can sciatica cause stomach pain.
A right lower quadrant pain radiating to the back may rather be a sign of internal irritation. Just like a lower left abdominal pain radiating to the back. Kidney diseases will cause lumbar pain radiating to the abdomen, while a slap on the back will most likely not cause that.
Don’t Miss: Does Lidocaine Work For Nerve Pain