Now accepting Telehealth appointments. Schedule a virtual visit.

Recognizing the Signs of Spinal Stenosis

Back pain is something most of us experience at some point in our lives. But if your pain doesn't go away within a few weeks, it could be a sign of something more serious. Spinal stenosis is one of the disorders that could be behind your chronic pain. 

At Kellogg Brain and Spine, our team specializes in the treatment of spinal stenosis, along with a slew of other spinal disorders as well. Leading our amazing team is Dr. Jordi Kellogg, who is a board-certified neurosurgeon specializing in state-of-the-art treatments to help you get your life back from chronic pain.

What is spinal stenosis?

Your spine is made up of many vertebrae, which are the bones that protect your spinal cord from injury and allow you to stand up straight. Your spine is separated into five sections; your cervical spine (neck), thoracic spine (mid back), lumbar spine (lower back), sacrum, and coccyx (tailbone). 

The vertebrae house your spinal cord and also the spinal nerves, which branch out to allow your brain to send signals to the rest of your body. Within the vertebrae are foramina, which are openings in the middle of the vertebrae, where your spinal cord is housed. This is also known as the spinal canal. There are intervertebral foramina as well, which is where your spinal nerves branch out.

Spinal stenosis is a condition where the foramina within your vertebrae begin to become more narrow, which puts pressure on your spinal cord and your nerves within your spine. This may lead to many different symptoms, depending if your spinal cord is compressed or just your nerves are being pinched.

Symptoms of spinal stenosis

Although it may seem like this condition is painful, in some cases spinal stenosis doesn’t cause pain. However, if you do have pain, it may range in severity from mild to completely unbearable. There are other signs and symptoms of this condition as well, which include:

Trouble walking

The nerves that are compressed in your low back or your neck both can lead to problems with balance and walking. For example, if your lumbar nerves are suffering, the numbness and weakness in your legs make it difficult to walk normally. Problems with your gait can lead to falls.

Pain down your arm

Arm pain from spinal stenosis is usually due to nerve problems in your cervical spine (neck). You may feel shooting pain down to your fingertips, along with other sensations like tingling or numbness. You may also experience a burning feeling in your neck.

Loss of fine motor skills

When your spinal stenosis affects the nerves in your neck, you may notice that it’s difficult to perform fine motor skills. This could include writing, typing, or buttoning a shirt. If left untreated, this condition may make it almost impossible to perform the smallest of tasks.

Sciatica pain

This pain is caused when the nerves in your lower back are compressed. Sciatica pain usually is felt down only one of your legs, and can range from pain in your buttock only, to pain the whole way down to your foot. You may also experience tingling and numbness in the affected leg.

Foot drop

Foot drop is a condition that’s caused by compressed nerves in your lumbar spine. It leads to weakness in your foot and trouble walking. If you have foot drop, you’ll notice that it’s hard to move your foot or lift your toes. 

If you’re experiencing any of these symptoms, spinal stenosis could be the culprit. Getting treatment as soon as possible helps to decrease complications down the road.

Treatment that helps

Treatment for spinal stenosis depends on the severity of your symptoms and which other treatments you’ve already tried. Dr. Kellogg starts out with conservative treatments if your condition is mild or moderate in nature. 

Some of the treatments include:

Sometimes it takes more than one of these treatments to relieve your symptoms. It also could take a few tries as well. However, if your symptoms don’t improve after several rounds of conservative therapies, Dr. Kellogg suggests surgery, if you’re a candidate for this treatment.

Surgery usually involves a fusion, which is where Dr. Kellogg fuses two or more of your vertebrae together, which helps to stabilize the vertebrae and take pressure off your nerves. This surgery is reserved for cases of spinal stenosis that are severe and not relieved by other more conservative treatments.

If you’re concerned that your back pain is being caused by spinal stenosis, request an appointment while you’re here on our website. You can also schedule a consultation by calling the nearest office -- in either Portland or Wilsonville, Oregon. 

You Might Also Enjoy...

What Is the iFuse Implant System?

Back pain is sometimes because of a problem in your sacroiliac joint. When you have this kind of pain, your life can be severely affected. Keep reading to learn how the iFuse implant system® can help you finally kick your back pain to the curb.

How to Choose a Neurosurgeon for Your Neck Surgery

If you need surgery on your neck, you’re likely nervous with a million questions spiraling through your brain, like how do you choose the right surgeon? Keep reading to learn how to properly select a neurosurgeon for your neck procedure.

Why Do I Have Lumbar Fractures?

If you’ve ever had a broken bone in your back, you know it’s no walk in the park. But if you haven’t suffered an injury, why do you have back fractures in the first place? We share some of the causes of lumbar spine fractures.

How Spinal Stenosis Is Diagnosed

Back pain is a terrible symptom to suffer from — especially when it's due to spinal stenosis. But how can you be sure that's the true cause of your pain? Dr. Kellogg shares how spinal stenosis is diagnosed, and what treatment you can expect.

Do I Need a Disc Replacement?

Chronic pain in your back or neck is a real drag — especially when no treatment has worked. However, a disc replacement could be just the thing you need. Learn when a disc replacement can help you overcome pain in your spine.

Understanding the Different Types of Spine Surgeries

When your back pain is so persistent that nothing helps, it might be time for surgery. But with so many different types of spine surgeries, how do you know which one you need? Our expert discusses the many types of back surgery.