2 Types of Spinal Stenosis

2 Types of Spinal Stenosis

Spinal stenosis, sometimes called spinal narrowing, can put pressure on the nerves that travel through your spine. This narrowing can develop when one of three things occur. They include degeneration of the discs in your spine, arthritis in the spine and narrowing of the spinal foramina (bony openings). Often all three occur simultaneously. As this progresses, it compresses your nerves and causes pain. 

There are two types of spinal stenosis: spinal and cervical. Our team of providers treats both types of spinal stenosis here at International Spine, Pain & Performance Center.

Below, we explore these two types in greater detail.

What is the difference between cervical spinal stenosis and lumbar spinal stenosis? 

The biggest difference between these two is where the narrowing occurs. Your spine consists of 33 bones called vertebrae. These bones are separated by intervertebral discs. Your vertebral column protects your spinal cord, supports your weight (above your pelvis), and plays a big role in your body’s movements. The sections of your spine include the following parts:

In other words, cervical stenosis is a narrowing that occurs in your neck, and lumbar stenosis occurs in your lower back.

How can you tell which type of spinal stenosis you have?

Where you experience your pain can help pinpoint which type of spinal stenosis you have. 

If your pain is located in the neck region of your spine, you may experience cervical stenosis. Because your nerves run from your spinal column to your extremities, cervical stenosis can also cause weakness, tingling, and numbness in your hands and arms. You may also experience balance issues e.g., tripping, shuffling, or lack of coordination. 

On the other hand, if you have lumbar stenosis, you may experience lower back and leg pain. Lumbar stenosis can also cause weakness, tingling, and numbness and heaviness in your legs and/or feet. You may also experience pain, and cramping in your legs. Bladder and bowel function may be affected in severe cases of lumbar stenosis.

In addition to an exam and a review of your symptoms, we may recommend an X-ray or MRI to confirm the diagnosis and rule out any other conditions that also cause neck/back pain.

How is spinal stenosis treated?

Before embarking on any treatment plan, the first step is to confirm that your symptoms are related to spinal stenosis. Spinal stenosis is treated with both conservative and surgical interventions. Potential treatments may include:

If your neck pain or back pain isn’t related to spinal stenosis, our multidisciplinary team will guide you with your next steps. Herniated discs, disc degeneration, and vertebral fractures are all possible sources of pain. Whether you think your neck or back pain is related to spinal stenosis or not, we’re here to help. Call one of our three locations today and get the relief you need. You can also request an appointment online any time day or night.

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