Spinal stenosis is a condition which can affect the spine at any age though is much more common in the over 60’s. It is a narrowing of the central bony canal which carries the spinal cord or spinal nerves. The areas of the spine most affected by stenosis are the cervical (neck) spine or the lumbar (lower back) spine.
Though stenosis can be caused by many things, the commonest are degenerative changes (arthritic type change) in the joints, ligaments & discs of your spine, which cause these structures to encroach into the spinal canal & impinge on the neural structures (spinal cord and/or nerves) in that area. This can cause them to stop functioning properly and give rise to symptoms.
Your symptoms will differ depending on where your stenosis is. In the neck, it can cause pinching of the spinal cord. This can cause loss of strength in your arms & sometimes your legs; fine movements in your fingers (eg doing up buttons, or sewing) may become difficult; your balance may go awry and you may find your walking is rather ’wayward’ or lurching. These symptoms can be associated with other problems, and Mr Cass will listen to your problems, ask further questions & examine you to best find the cause. You may also be sent for an MRI scan.
In the lumbar spine stenosis may give rise to ‘spinal claudication’ where you find your legs going heavy, tiring or cramping when you attempt to walk. Often you find your ability to walk distances slowly diminishing. Again, a lot of the diagnosis is based upon listening to your story of the symptoms. Examination can help further, especially ruling out any poor blood flow problems which can closely mimic spinal claudication. Again Mr Cass may send you for an MRI scan to confirm his diagnosis.
Treatments for spinal stenosis include doing nothing, putting anti-inflammatory steroid into the spine and surgery. Decision of what treatment is best for you will come about from a discussion with Mr Cass about your level of symptoms, the findings of any examination & investigations and the findings of any scans.
If you are concerned about having stenosis or any other spinal condition and would like to arrange an appointment with Mr Cass, contact Florence Anderson on 01273 828098.