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Spinal Stenosis or What?

edited 06/11/2012 - 8:41 AM in Spinal Stenosis
Hello, new here...not new to back pain. I have had 2 Dr's look at my MRI and say it is Spinal Stenosis. I went to a Pain Doc he said...he does not see it. So now I am waiting to see a neuro. Reason behind the Pain Doc say I do not have it...because I get no relief from sitting. Any one else with this?

I am so sick of this. I dealt with left groin pain for 3 yrs they could not figure a thing out. Blamed it on endometriosis. Been on pain meds, muscle relaxers, had every MRI, CT, Xray under the sun. Felt like a head case.

Till about a month ago, I was cleaning my car out. I was standing not bending and from head to toe it felt like when you pull your back out..but it was from head to toe. Could not walk, the most scared ever in my life . BTW..I am only 39 yrs old...any hope? Any suggestions. I feel like all I do is sit and wait weeks to see "specialist" and nobody has any answers? Anyone have groin pain with this? I also drag my left leg.

Anything would be appreciated...I have not luck with Dr's.


  • First, welcome to S-H. :)

    I haven't had a lumbar MRI yet but based on my symptoms have been told I have lumbar spinal stenosis. My primary symptoms are really awful leg cramps in one calf which happen only at night and cramping of my inner thigh muscles which happens in the daytime. Those awful thigh cramps can sometimes be relieved by my bending forward at the hips but lately I've had to take quinine to abort the cramp. You might try bending over and holding that position for maybe 30 seconds and see what happens.

    As far as sitting down not relieving my symptoms, I've never bene told that it should and sitting has little or no effect on the cramping that I experience. Depending on the chair, however, sitting causes radiculopathy (nerve pain) down my right leg.

    Since stenosis is simply the narrowing of space that a nerve(s) travel through it can be caused by a number of different things and can happen at any level in the spine so you'll probably get a variety of experiences from different people who respond to your question. Are you doing any exercises for the stenosis? I was sent to an orthopedic physical therapist who has me doing exercises to relieve the pressure on the nerves, as well as twisting and stretching exercises to loosen up my hamstrings and limber up my spine.

    From what I read, treating spinal stenosis is a long-term process. They first attempt to use non-invasive treatment (NSAIDs, pain med, PT, etc) to help a person live with the stenosis for as long as possible. I don't blame you for being discouraged because you don't have pain relief and it seems to me there should be something that could be done to help you feel at least some better, even if it isn't 100%. I also understand that you're not convinced it is actually stenosis that's causing your pain and that's a reasonable question to ask. I hope you can get some answers and hopefully some pain relief soon.


    2009 Foraminotomy C6-72010 PLIF L4-S1Multi RFA's, cervical inj, lumbar injLaminectomy L3-4 and fusion w/internal fixation T10-L4 July 17Fusion C2-C5 yet to be scheduled
  • I think I am convinced it is spinal stenosis...everything fits. The Docs say I should get relief from sitting. My legs and feet were going numb when I sit so I now use a donut...that helps tons.

    Yes, I have been doing PT for a month. Actually in the water..I love it it is the only place I feel pain free. I have just had so much done the past few years due to the groin pain that they could not figure out...now this. The diagnosis of spinal stenosis just fits.

    Thanks for the response...it feels good to know I am not alone.
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  • I forgot to mention I also have L5/S1 which I have radio frequency treatment and several cortisone shots over the years.
  • Hello,

    I have lumbar spinal stenosis and had to have surgery in 2006, which did help a lot. I wanted to let you know that one of the hallmarks of spinal stenosis is getting relief from sitting while bending forward or things like having to lean forward on a shopping cart while in a store. This is exactly what happened to me. However, my pain got so severe that no position was helping anymore, this was due to several disc herniations. Sitting and standing put the most pressure on the spine so can definitely aggravate pain if one has disc herniations or osteoarthritis.

    By the time I had surgery, I was lucky if I could walk only 20 to 30 feet at a time and even that was so painful. I had to walk bent forward at the waist at almost a 90 degree angle. I was still in pain, but this was the only way I could walk any short length.
  • Your description sounds like the road I'm headed down. :( Lumbar stenosis and degenerative scoliosis, but nowhere near the debility you experienced...yet. I have intermittent nerve pain down one leg and nasty calf and inner thigh cramps to deal with and have been told I've probably herniated a couple of lumbar discs over the years. One question--did you get muscle cramps in your legs and feet? I just spent the last 2 hours standing up while practicing some music (constantly moving, shifting from foot to foot, you can imagine) and by the time I was done my toes were starting to cramp in both feet when I sat down. Had to stand on them to get the cramps to abate.

    2009 Foraminotomy C6-72010 PLIF L4-S1Multi RFA's, cervical inj, lumbar injLaminectomy L3-4 and fusion w/internal fixation T10-L4 July 17Fusion C2-C5 yet to be scheduled
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  • Hi Inchworm,

    Yes, I had not just cramps, but severe muscle spasms in my entire legs. This is something that can happen with stenosis when the bundle of nerves and blood vessels are (or start getting) choked off. This is what prevented me from standing upright. This is also a symptom of stenosis and has it's own diagnosis called neurogenic claudication. My surgeon was great in explaining all this stuff to me, plus I've done a lot of reading on my own; so I can't tell you that you definitely have it, but it's possible. Mine was from a combination of things. I think if yours is caused by discs, it might have to be rather large herniations to do this.

    Although, even after surgery, I still have many problems, though not all related to my lumbar spine. I do get bouts of severe sciatica, usually down my left let. When I get sciatica, it also causes that leg to cramp up. I've gotten my foot, calf, and uppper leg cramped up. It seems everytime I have bad nerve pain, I get muscle cramps along with it. I have read this also in numerous medical articles from teaching universities. I've actually been getting worsening spasms since my surgery, though all over my entire body, so it's not just low back related. I have to take Soma on a regular basis to keep it under control somewhat. (Soma is a muscle relaxer). I don't know about you, but i've had cramps and spasms so bad that my ankles have turned inward and even my knees where my entire leg is in severe spasm, it is absolutely awful. When that happens, its exremely difficult to stop it. If my ankle and knee are all twisted up, I can't even try to walk it out. BTW...I also have been developing degenerative scoliosis over the past few years. My surgeon didn't think it quite bad enough to cause some of my low back/leg symptoms, but he didn't rule it out. Mine is s-shaped and very clear to see on x-ray. This is just in my lumbar spine.
  • My goodness, your foot and leg cramps/spasms sound awful! The ones I get in my calf and thigh muscles are excruciating but they are relieved by quinine so at least I don't have to just endure them. My scoliosis is lumbar as well and it appears to be c-shaped to my eye. It must have come on fairly rapidly because over the coarse of 5 years or so I lost almost 2" in height and had been wondering what was going on. They didn't tell me the degree of curvature but the notation on the x-ray is just shy of 26 so am guess that's the degree of curvature. That isn't a large curve but I just hope it doesn't continue to progress at the same rate it seems to have developed. At this point I don't know which of the lumbar problems (scoliosis, stenosis, old herniations, arthritis and just general degeneration) are the cause of my symptoms but I suspect it's a combination of things. I'm having a total knee replacement done in 3 1/2 weeks on my right leg (for bone-on-bone arthritis) and am hoping that helps my overall back health. That leg is the one which has the radiculopathy most often and has the worst leg cramps. That knee has buckled inwards and so my femur has an unnatural angle on it and getting the knee fixed logically will take that added stress off my lumbar spine. I wish there was something more they could do for you. Your situations sounds just miserable.

    2009 Foraminotomy C6-72010 PLIF L4-S1Multi RFA's, cervical inj, lumbar injLaminectomy L3-4 and fusion w/internal fixation T10-L4 July 17Fusion C2-C5 yet to be scheduled

  • Yes, me too!!
    I have spinal stenosis caused by my L4/5 vertebra slipping forward, and compressing my cord and nerve roots.

    Over the last few months, I have had increasing cramps and spasms in my lower back, legs, feet and toes. I also get twitching in my legs.

    I am having a fusion on Friday, so I hope that will sort out this problem.

    I must say that when I get spasms in my lower back, it causes it to arch quite strongly, and I worry about that causing terrible pain after the fusion. I hope not!
    Has anyone else had this problem?

    I also get cramps in the palms of my hands. I have been told that I have a small spinal canal. I wonder if this is the result of stenosis in my neck.
    Has anyone else had cramping in their hands?

  • Inchworm - I am getting by with a combination of pain meds, muscle relaxer, and nerve pain med; I still have pain every day, but I can function okay, so the meds really help. My doctor really works with me to find the best mix. However, I do constantly get disc herniations, and sometimes sciatica from them, so no meds really help when this happens. Well, except for lumbar epidurals, they do help me tremendously, though for only about 2 weeks. I would also guess that your pain is from a combination of all those issues. I bet your knee/leg problem did contribute a lot to your spine problems and scoliosis. I have a bad right ankle and I always wonder if it contributed to my spine problems. My spine surgeon said it certainly could have. I do hope your surgery really helps your knee and I'll keep my fingers crossed that it ends up helping your spine as well!

    Jellyhall - My back does the same thing many times when it's in severe spasm, sometimes I feel like I'm crooked from it. I haven't yet had fusion, but did have multi-level laminectomies; I don't want to scare you, but I do have to say the pain and spasms right after surgery were god awful. Yes, I had painkillers, but still felt the pain. If I went a little too long before taking my meds, forget about it, I was in tears and the spasms were terrible. But of course, every day the pain gets a bit less and less. After about 2 weeks, I still had a lot of pain, but was able to stop taking the strong painkillers. You are having a major surgery, so it is expected that you'll be in major pain afterwards. You just have to think ahead, think that as the days go by, the pain will subside. I do wish you lots of luck with your surgery.

    I also get hand spasms! It happens when my neck is in severe pain. It's weird in my hands, though, because it doesn't hurt too bad, but man do they warp. All my fingers squeeze all together and my thumbs press into my palms; sometimes my wrists will then cramp up as well. I am convinced it is due to my neck. My rheumatologist saw it one day when I was in the office and said out loud that my hand spasms look like tetany. He sent me for a bunch more blood tests, but nothing came back unusual. I told him about all my neck pain, though. But, whatever. Are your spasms like this too?
  • your my twin. everything is identical
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