The Differences Between Cervical and Lumbar Stenosis

Your spine is integral to the way you move throughout the day, and you might not think much about it until your back hurts. Cervical stenosis and lumbar stenosis are two spinal conditions that can cause pain and discomfort, and they can dramatically reduce your quality of life. 

At International Spine, Pain & Performance Center, our experienced team of orthopedic specialists specializes in treating a variety of spinal disorders, including spinal stenosis

Below, we explore the key difference between cervical and lumbar stenosis and how we can help you get relief from either condition.

What does stenosis mean?

The word stenosis refers to a narrowing of a channel. In the case of spinal stenosis, your spinal canal is affected by this narrowing. Your spinal canal is a channel, or passageway, hidden inside your spinal column (i.e. your 33 vertebrae) that allows your nerves to run from your brain, down into your spine, and out into your limbs. This is all part of your nervous system. When this spinal canal narrows, it irritates these nerves, which causes discomfort.

Spinal stenosis occurs in the more active parts of your spine -- your neck and your lower back. Cervical stenosis and lumbar stenosis refer to stenosis in these parts of your spine.

Cervical stenosis

When spinal stenosis affects your neck, it’s called cervical stenosis. The word cervical (which means neck) indicates the location of the problem. If you have cervical stenosis, you might notice the following symptoms:

You may also struggle with coordination and balance problems.

Lumbar stenosis

When spinal stenosis affects your lower back, it’s called lumbar stenosis. When your spinal canal in your lower back becomes narrower, it can affect your peripheral nerves. Symptoms of lumbar stenosis include:

Severe cases of lumbar stenosis can cause bladder and/or bowel functions.

What causes spinal stenosis?

Regardless of whether you have cervical or lumbar stenosis, you might wonder what caused the condition to develop. Many conditions can contribute to the development of spinal stenosis. This includes:

The symptoms of spinal stenosis can vary from mild to severe, but in order to avoid some of the complications (such as compromised bladder function), we suggest making an appointment with one of our skilled orthopedic specialists here at International Spine, Pain & Performance Center.  

The best treatments for lumbar and cervical stenosis

Before determining your treatment plan, the first step is to determine the condition (or conditions) that are causing your cervical or lumbar stenosis. For example, if osteoarthritis and the resulting bone spurs are causing your spinal canal to narrow, then osteoporosis should be addressed as part of your overall treatment plan. 

Regardless of what’s causing your spinal canal to narrow, our team is equipped to offer a variety of treatments, including both non-invasive and surgical treatments. Whether you need physical therapy, steroid injections, regenerative therapy, or surgery, we can help you get the relief you need.

To learn more about cervical or lumbar stenosis and to explore your treatment options, call one of our three locations or visit our website to request your appointment today.

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