Onset can occur gradually with a feeling of tenderness over the buttock area or upper thigh. This feeling of tenderness will gradually radiate into the lower extremity. After a period of time neurological symptoms will develop, causing sharp and at times severe pain, radiating from the lower back into the buttock and down the leg. Severe symptoms can develop suddenly, usually within 24 hours after heavy lifting, with no previous signs of tenderness or pain.
Pain can be very severe after walking, and that is often mistaken as originating from a circulatory (vascular) disorder. In a vascular disorder the pain will be relieved when the individual stops walking and rests. In spinal stenosis, the pain will not be relieved on resting. If the condition is not attended to at its very beginning, when symptoms first appear, it will progress into a chronic disorder that becomes increasingly more painful with each and Paget's disease. Anepisode. The pain can be so severe, that the individual can become completely disabled, preventing them from their normal daily activities, as well as being ambulatory.
Spinal stenosis results from a narrowed spinal canal space and the causes can be varied. Some of these causes are, osteoarthritis, spondylolesthesis, and compression fracture of a vertebra, congenital bone defects other very common cause, related to the osteoarthritis, is the overgrowth of boney spickules into the spinal canal. These boney projections encroach on the sciatic nerve causing the pain and neurological symptoms. If these boney projections are seriously reducing the size of the spinal canal and are impacting the spinal nerve, surgical removal of these projections may be necessary.
Should the symptoms of spinal stenosis occur in a younger individual, congenital defects should be ruled out entirely, or confirmed if they are present. These incidents can be brought on by trauma during a work related incident, or during leisure activities while playing sports. The trauma that occurred can result in muscle spasms that will impact the sciatic nerve and cause symptoms similar to those in spinal stenosis. In these cases, physiotherapy in the form of local heat, electric muscle stimulation and ultrasound will be of benefit. Rest, until symptoms abate is also beneficial.
When low back pain has become chronic, finding the cause of that pain is of the utmost importance. Once the cause has been pinpointed, alleviating the pain is the first order of business. Correcting the cause, if at all possible, is the next order of business. Depending upon the healthcare provider you see, the search of the cause may differ. The medical approach will be to alleviate the pain with the use of anti-inflammatory drugs and bed rest. In more severe cases they will use an epidural injection. If the pain is not relieved, the following month, another epidural injection is tried. This procedure is used for three months. If it is not successful after the third month, surgery may be suggested.
This surgery may be in the form of spinal fusion, or the removal of the boney projections into the spinal canal. Chiropractic is another approach to chronic low back pain with the symptoms of spinal stenosis. The Chiropractor will find a positive cause and try to correct the cause. Very often these causes are of a biomechanical nature. The biomechanical cause can stem from the feet, the knees, or the spine itself. Once identified, proper corrections are made. While these corrections are ongoing, alleviation of the pain is addressed. Here too, they will use local heat, electric muscle stimulation, ultrasound, combined with specific massage therapy. During this period of treatment, an orthopedic support to splint and stabilize the area may also be used.
During the period of time that the individual is undergoing treatment, it is of course very important that they take an active part in helping themselves as well. Home healthcare, will play a very significant role in their recovery. For example, if the individual is overweight, they should make every effort to take off the excess pounds. Try to rest as much as possible and do not engage in any activities that will tend to aggravate the low back in particular. Use local heat for 20-30 minutes 3 to 4 times daily. Use a good analgesic gel, rubbed into the area 3 to 4 times daily. Wear an orthopedic support to splint the area, giving Mother Nature a chance to heal the offending area as well.
When symptoms start to abate, it is time to strengthen the muscles that have grown weaker. An exercise program should be started. Start out slowly, giving the muscles (particularly the low back and the abdominal muscles) a chance to strengthen as you go along. Do not give up on your exercise program after you feel better, thinking you are out of the woods. You will never really be out the woods. The exercise program is forever!