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Spinal Stenosis (cont.)

Spinal Stenosis Symptoms

The symptoms of spinal stenosis depend on where the stenosis occurs in the spinal canal and how severe it is.

Symptoms caused by compression of the spinal cord are called myelopathy. These can include:

  • worsening balance,
  • falling,
  • dropping objects,
  • difficulty buttoning buttons or picking up small coins, and
  • loss of control of the bowel and/or bladder.

Symptoms caused by compression of the nerves are called radiculopathy. These can include:

  • pain,
  • numbness,
  • tingling, or
  • weakness along the path of the nerve being compressed.

When stenosis develops in the neck (cervical spine stenosis) there can be compression of the spinal cord and the nerves that travel into the arms and hands. This can cause symptoms of:

  • myelopathy,
  • numbness,
  • tingling,
  • weakness or cramping in the arms and hands.

When the stenosis develops in the lower back (lumbar spine stenosis) there is compression of the nerves that travel into the legs and feet. This can cause:

  • pain,
  • numbness,
  • tingling,
  • weakness or cramping in the legs and feet, particularly progressively with walking and being relieved with resting.

These symptoms are sometimes referred to as pseudoclaudication (false blockage) as they mimic the symptoms of inadequate circulation to the legs that is referred to as claudication.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 6/24/2015

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