Stenosis refers to the narrowing of the spinal canal, which can cause pressure on the spinal cord and nerves. Spinal stenosis is most often found in the neck and lower back and may come about due to aging, herniated discs, injury and other factors.
Cervical and lumbar spinal stenosis occur in the neck area and lower back, respectively. The cervical (neck) region consists of seven vertebrae, referred to as C1 through C7, going down from the top, just beneath the skull, to the bottom of the neck. The cervical vertebrae provide support for the skull and head movements plus protection for the spinal cord and brain stem. Continuing down the spine, the next region is the thoracic area, with 12 vertebrae running behind and attaching to the ribs--making this area more stable than the cervical or lumbar spine, above and below.
The lumbar (lower back) region carries most of your body weight, with larger vertebrae than other regions, specified as L1-L5. Below this is the sacral spine consisting of S1-S5 fused in a triangle-like shape, running between the hip bones that link the pelvis and spine. Below the sacrum are 5 additional small, fused bones which make up the tailbone.
The cervical and lumbar areas provide more motion than other parts of the spine, with the cervical area the most mobile. The lumbar area is the most common source of back pain, since it carries much of the body’s weight. The neck area is also vulnerable, since the bones are both smaller and more mobile. The neck and lower back also both have a concave curve formed by the bones in these spinal areas. Between the bones of the spine are discs, which serve to cushion and absorb shock as well as connect the vertebrae. The spinal cord ends in the lower thoracic spine and nerve roots emanate from the lumbar and sacral areas.
Lumbar and cervical stenosis symptoms
Pressure on the spinal cord in the neck (cervical region) can cause stenosis symptoms in the neck and below. Cervical stenosis may bring about arm, hand, shoulder and leg pain, weakness and/or loss of strength. It’s also common for symptoms that might not seem to be associated with the neck to occur: increasingly sensitive reflex reactions in the legs, loss of control of leg movement and/or trouble walking. In the most serious cases, bladder or bowel function may be affected.
Nerve compression in the lumbar spine may cause cramps or pain in the legs, especially when standing for a long time or walking. Lower back and leg pain may ease if you sit or bend forward. Lumbar stenosis may also cause tingling sensations, burning pain, weakness or numbness radiating from your lower back into your buttocks and legs.
Seek proper diagnosis, begin proper treatment--and feel better
With symptoms that may be widely spread throughout the body, it’s important to get a correct diagnosis of spinal stenosis. In the case of sudden or extreme symptoms, get immediate emergency treatment. If you’re dealing with non-emergency symptoms that, nevertheless, are interrupting your life and affecting its quality, see your back specialist. When dealing with lumbar and/or cervical stenosis, there are natural treatments that can bring relief--so get started today by contacting the Illinois Back Institute. Among other natural herniated disc and stenosis treatments, we offer non-invasive Functional Disc RehydrationTM which has been proven effective to end the cycle of pain for many patients. Contact us today for a free back pain consultation.