spinal stenosis

The Causes and Symptoms of Spinal Stenosis

Spinal Stenosis is a problem which builds up over many years. Most people who get spinal stenosis are over 50. In the first part of this article I will discuss the causes and in the second part I talk about symptoms

How Joints Wear: From Muscle Strain to Spinal Stenosis

The short-term episodes of spinal pain or lower back pain that we experience in our everyday life are caused either by strains or injuries to the ligaments and muscles. These may be a result of sports injuries, repetitive stress or sedentary lifestyle. 

People in the middle age are more likely to experience muscle aches and wear and tear of the intervertebral discs.  Aside from these, they also experience degenerative changes or spondylosis particularly in the cervical (neck) and lower lumbar (back) regions.

spinal stenosis
X-ray of an injured cervical spine

The discs in our backs naturally have high water content, but as we get older, the discs start to dry out and become weak, which can result in more severe spondylosis. This can cause loss of disc height. As the spine reduces in height the soft tissues and bones to harden and enlarge. These two factors reduce the space that spinal nerves pass through. Spinal stenosis is the narrowing of the space around the spinal nerves.  

Symptoms of Spinal Stenosis



Sciatica refers to a burning sensation that starts from the buttocks and radiates down the back of the leg. Too much pressure or damage to the sciatic nerve is the main cause of this. When the condition worsens, the symptoms will be felt on the sole of the foot.

Numbness and tingling of the buttocks or the legs

Another symptom of spinal stenosis is numbness and tingling of the buttocks and/or legs. When the pressure on the nerve becomes severe, numbness and tingling will be experienced along with the burning sensation; however, not all patients with spinal stenosis will experience both burning pain and sciatica at the same time.

Foot drop

Foot drop refers to weakness of the muscles that allow the ankles and toes to flex. This can occur when the pressure on the nerve reaches a critical level. Foot drop is when an individual has to drag the front of his/her foot and bend the knee in order to help lift the foot higher when walking. Some individuals feel that their foot slaps on the ground when ambulating.

Worsening symptoms with standing and walking

Pain caused by spinal stenosis may be worsened with standing and walking. Studies, however, show that patients experience less pain with sitting or leaning forward as this increases the spaces for the nerves to pass through. Some patients state that walking more than one block can exacerbate the pain and weakness. Walking while leaning on something or even riding a bicycle, however, does not worsen the pain.

With these symptoms, consulting a chiropractor is still the best option. Visit us at our chiropractic clinics in Chester or North Wales. We can help determine the cause of your pain and give appropriate treatment. Spinal stenosis is  not curable but a lot can be done to reduce the symptoms once the correct diagnosis is made.


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