Spinal stenosis is most commonly caused by wear-and-tear changes in the spine related to osteoarthritis, with the type of spinal stenosis classified by where the condition occurs on the spine. Specifically, there are two types of spinal stenosis:
- Cervical stenosis, where narrowing of the spine is located in the cervical, or neck, area.
- Lumbar stenosis, where narrowing of the spine is located in the lumbar, or lower back area. Lumbar stenosis is the most commonly reported type of spinal stenosis.
Evidence of spinal stenosis may be revealed through MRI or CT scans, but may be asymptomatic in nature. As symptoms develop, they tend to be mild at the start and become progressively worse over time; symptoms of the condition often depend on the specific nerves being affected and the location where the condition occurs. Specifically, symptoms of spinal stenosis include:
- Tingling and/or numbness in the feet, hands, arms or legs
- General weakness in upper extremities, specifically the arms or hands
- Issues arising with coordination and balance, especially while walking
- General neck discomfort, pain, or irritation
- Tingling, numbness, or irritation in the leg or foot
- General weakness in lower extremities, specifically the feet or legs
- Pain, discomfort, or cramping in the legs and feet, especially while standing for extended periods of time
- General back discomfort, pain, or irritation
Spinal stenosis is most often diagnosed after your doctor conducts a complete physical exam and a detailed review of your medical history; your physician might also order a series of medical imaging tests, including x-rays, MRI, or CT, to further identify the exact cause contributing to observed symptoms.
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