Learn the Symptoms of Spinal Stenosis
When you hear the words “spinal stenosis” from your doctor it can be pretty scary, especially when you aren’t really sure what it is. After all, any medical condition that involves the spinal cord can seem dire to the average patient.
In most cases, spinal stenosis is a secondary condition caused by osteoarthritis. Many people go through life with stenosis and never have a single symptom. Others will experience a sliding scale of intensity in symptoms. The National Stem Cell Institute (NSI), a leading regenerative medicine clinic based in the United States, regularly admits patients with stenosis pain that varies from minor to acute to chronic.
At its most basic, spinal stenosis is a bone condition that affects the vertebrae running from the top of the neck to the base of the spine.
The centers of the vertebrae are hollow, allowing the branches of the central nervous system to connect the brain to the rest of the body. But the wear and tear that comes with aging, most especially in the case of osteoarthritis, can cause spaces within the vertebrae to narrow. When this happens, ligaments and other vertebral tissue can press against the nerves. The two most common areas of the spine that are affected by spinal stenosis are the neck and the lower back.
Stenosis of the spine symptoms include:
- Muscle Weakness
Symptoms frequently become worse over time. Acute to chronic spinal stenosis may require medical interventions such as stem cell therapy or, as a last resort, surgery.
Spinal Stenosis Basics
There are two primary kinds of spinal stenosis: cervical and lumbar. People may be diagnosed with one or both. Cervical stenosis happens when the narrowing is located in the neck. Lumbar stenosis involves the narrowing of vertebral canals located in the lower back. Stenosis of the spine that affects the lower back is the most common.
Degrees of stenosis of the spine are classified as mild, moderate, and severe.
A Closer Look at Spinal Stenosis Symptoms
It is not unusual for many people to not even know they have spinal stenosis until it shows up on an MRI or CT scan. When symptoms do show up, they frequently begin gradually and become worse over time. Which location and nerves are impacted by stenosis determines the types of symptoms that will be experienced.
Symptoms of cervical stenosis of the spine include:
- Numbness or tingling, usually in one hand, arm, foot, or leg
- Muscle weakness, usually in one hand, arm, foot, or leg
- Difficulty in walking and balance
- Neck pain
- Bowel or bladder problems (in severe cases)
Symptoms of lumbar spinal stenosis include:
- Numbness or tingling, usually in one foot or leg
- Weakness, usually in one foot or leg
- Leg pain and/or cramping when standing for long durations or when walking (the pain or cramping commonly eases when the sufferer bends forward or sits)
- Lower back pain
The Causes of Stenosis of the Spine
While spinal stenosis is most commonly associated with osteoarthritis, other medical conditions, injuries, and diseases can cause it, too. Genetics can also play a role in developing it.
These other causes of spinal stenosis include:
- Herniated spinal discs
- Bone spurs forming on the spine
- Being born with a smaller than average spinal canal
- Overgrowth of bone
- Paget’s disease
- Thickened spinal
- Injury to the spine
- Swelling of nearby tissue after back surgery
Stenosis Risk Factors
Generally speaking, spinal stenosis usually doesn’t develop until after the age of 50. However, degenerative diseases and conditions that affect younger people can also cause spinal stenosis.
Conditions that can cause spinal stenosis in people less than 50 years of age include:
- Physical trauma
- Congenital spine deformity such as scoliosis
- Genetic diseases that affect bone and muscle development
Spinal imaging such as MRI’s or X-rays can help determine the different causes of stenosis.
Complications Related to Stenosis of the Spine
Though rare, spinal stenosis that has progressed to the category of “severe” may cause permanent disability.
Severe stenosis complications include:
- Trouble with balance
- Bladder or bowel incontinence
A Closer Look at Lumbar Spinal Stenosis
When lumbar spinal stenosis occurs, it is due to the compression of the nerve roots located in the lower back. This can often cause “pseudo sciatica.” Sciatica, whether classified as true or pseudo, is a symptom of an underlying condition. In the case of lumbar stenosis of the spine, the pain, tingling, numbness, or muscle weakness will radiate from the lower back into a buttocks and/or leg. The symptoms may worsen during activity.
Spinal stenosis of the lower back may mimic the pain of venous insufficiency, which usually occurs in one leg when walking. If diagnostic tests show healthy blood flow in the legs, and spinal stenosis is confirmed, the condition is known as neurogenic claudication.
The main hallmark of lumbar stenosis is pain or weakness in the legs when walking.
Generally speaking, those who may have a diagnosis of lumbar spinal stenosis in their near future complain of leg pain or weakness during walking, with the symptoms subsiding when they sit. Often, sufferers also say that their leg pain or weakness lessens when they lean forward during walking, such as when using a shopping cart.
Lumbar spinal stenosis usually affects areas of the spine anywhere along levels L3 to L5, but it can crop up in any level along the spine. Stenosis can cause a degenerative cascade that may ultimately affect virtually every vertebral segment of the lumbar region.
A Closer Look at Cervical Stenosis
Stenosis of the spine that affects the neck is known as cervical spinal stenosis. When stenosis occurs here, the potential for compression of the vertebrae in this area is high. When this happens, serious symptoms like extreme weakness or significant paralysis may occur. Those who have been diagnosed with this type of spinal stenosis should be regularly monitored by a doctor so that appropriate medical intervention can be done should myelopathy develop.
Less Common but Possible: Thoracic Stenosis
Thoracic spinal stenosis occurs much less frequently, but is still known to develop. The thoracic area of the spinal column is located in the middle/upper spinal region, and mostly associated with the vertebrae that are connected to the rib cage. This is a very stable and strong spinal area, however, with limited movement. Because there is naturally not as much free movement in this region of the spine, arthritic/degenerative disease is not as likely to arise along these vertebrae.
Where to Learn More
Prior to the development of regenerative medicine, little could be done for those who suffered from stenosis beyond anti-inflammatory treatments like steroids, pain medication, or spine surgery. While all of these options remain on the “treatment table,” a growing number of physicians recommend regenerative medicine procedures to address stenosis pain and symptoms.
This is because regenerative medical methods like stem cell and/or platelet rich plasma therapies are now available which focus on cellular-level repair, re-growth, and rejuvenation. These methods can result in the restoration of degenerated bone and spinal tissue, reducing or –in some cases- eliminating the need for steroids and pain medication. In many instances, stem cell therapy may eliminate the need for surgery. Even when surgery becomes necessary, stem cell and/or platelet rich plasma therapies is frequently used to promote faster, better quality healing.
FDA guidelines-compliant regenerative medicine clinics have now been operational in the U.S. for several years.
They are popularly known as stem cell clinics. Like all medical procedures in the United States, stem cell and/or platelet-rich plasma therapies must be performed by trained, licensed physicians in a legitimately operating medical facility.
The National Stem Cell Institute (NSI) encourages patients to thoroughly research clinics that offer regenerative medical procedures, and offers tips below to help them with their research.
What to Look for in a Stem Cell Medical Clinic
When searching for a qualified stem cell therapy center it’s important to remember that not all of them are created equal. Stem cells, when used properly, are your body’s most powerful means for healing that can repair everything from ligaments, tendons, and cartilage to organs including your liver, pancreas and lungs and even neurological tissue like your brain, nerves and spinal cord.
Unfortunately, the majority of so-called “regenerative medicine clinics” in the world aren’t trained in the latest, most technologically advanced procedures and will, therefore, provide poor results if any.
The good news is the National Stem Cell Institute (NSI) has established the most advanced stem cell and platelet rich plasma procedures on the planet which has drawn patients from all over the world as well as professional athletes and celebrities because they are recognized as the best in the world at stem cell therapy.
What makes NSI Stem Cell the top stem cell clinic in the world is demonstrated in 5 key areas:
1. Highly trained and experienced, board-certified doctors and team members who have performed stem cell procedures on thousands of patients with incredible results.
2. Cutting edge procedures utilizing all that regenerative medicine has to offer for many chronic degenerative conditions.
3. Leading scientific researchers who follow the advanced guidelines to maximize the healing potential of your stem cells and to maintain compliance and ethics
4. Use of only the most potent and viable resource of living, viable stem cells and harvested on the same day. No vial that you can purchase will contain living stem cells. If there is no harvest then there are no stem cells.
5. Post-operative guidance for supporting stem-cell growth including rehabilitation, diet and supplement protocols. NSI is a full-service healthcare center focused on patient outcomes. Stem cell therapy is only one tool used to help improve patients’ lives.
Patients have raved about their experience at NSI Stem Cell Clinics testifying that it was their unique cutting-edge procedures that helped them experience a breakthrough when nothing else worked.
If you want to learn more about NSI Stem Cell Clinics, you can set up a complimentary consultation today to see if you are a candidate. You can contact the National Stem Cell Institute at (877) 278-3623.
* Disclaimer: Individual patient results may vary. As each patient’s problem is different, each treatment must be tailored around your specific needs.