Stenosis of the Spine

I thought to share some of the health issues I have developed over the years, some of which are being blamed on the damage I did to my body 32 years ago when I had to jump 32 feet out of a burning house… Some are also age-related! I am almost 60 years old and lived a good life…

Cervical stenosis and lumbar stenosis are both conditions that affect the spine, specifically the cervical (neck) and lumbar (lower back) regions. I was diagnosed with Cervical Stenosis in February 2015 and Lumbar Stenosis is new, only a couple of months, in July 2023.

In general, cervical and lumbar stenosis are degenerative conditions that involve the narrowing of the spinal canal in the neck (cervical) or lower back (lumbar). This narrowing can put pressure on the spinal cord or nerves, leading to symptoms such as pain, weakness, numbness, and/or tingling in the affected areas. I have learned I will end up in a wheelchair with no strength to do much of anything and am coming to terms with it.

Cervical stenosis refers to the narrowing of the spinal canal in the neck. This narrowing in my case is the result of the degeneration of the discs. Cervical stenosis will lead to compression of the spinal cord and/or nerve roots, causing symptoms such as neck pain, numbness or weakness in the arms or legs, and problems with balance or coordination. I have all of it, with a few other things!

The nerve pain is like nothing else I have ever felt before… It feels like a hot poker is on your skin. I have issues with my hands, especially my fingers in my left hand, which makes it hard to type, wash dishes, and repair computers. They cramp up all the time and I am glad I am right-handed! I had to give up quite a bit, like computer repairs and building them, a lot of the crafts I was doing like card making and even had to give up playing Darts professionally. I can’t even play Pool anymore!!

Folding clothes is a struggle, lifting things with my left hand is impossible. I can’t carry much anymore, which makes shopping hard, but I have my trusty shopping cart that I pull. Driving is also hard as I can’t turn my head and my left side hurts after a while. I always had balance problems so that is nothing new, but the incontinence is! I have fallen a few times, hence the broken ankle last year!

Lumbar stenosis, on the other hand, refers to the narrowing of the spinal canal in the lower back. It usually occurs as a result of degenerative changes in the spine, such as the growth of bone spurs. Lumbar stenosis can compress the spinal cord or nerve roots, leading to symptoms such as lower back pain, numbness or weakness in the legs or feet, and difficulty walking or standing for long periods.

This one is a new one for me after getting the CT scan on my spine. Walking has become a struggle in recent months. My legs tend to go weak and feel numb when walking for a bit. It all got worse just after I walked Cape Spear Trail in August, just after my son got Married. I think I may have done too much during that time with the wedding and all, but it was worth it!

I’ve had issues walking for many years since I broke both legs but this was something new. I am not used to my legs feeling as weak as they did… I had to get it checked out and this is what I learned was going on. As I take medications anyway for nerve pain, I wasn’t feeling any in my lower back as I did with my neck. There isn’t much that can be done for me, but I am waiting on a consult with a spine surgeon and a neurologist.

I was told I was shafted. My body isn’t strong enough to help with recovery from the surgery I need. I do need knee replacements for both knees but my back isn’t strong enough to help me recover. They won’t do surgery on my back, as my knees aren’t strong enough for physio either to help me with recovery. What can you do with that, other than find a way to accept it? This is what I am working on, accepting my fate…

Both cervical and lumbar stenosis can be caused by age-related wear and tear on the spine, as well as conditions like herniated discs or trauma to the spine, like I did all those years ago. Treatment options for these conditions may include physical therapy, pain medication, epidural injections, and in severe cases, surgery to decompress the affected nerves or spinal cord. I don’t qualify for most of those treatments…

The outcome of cervical and lumbar stenosis can vary depending on the severity of the condition, individual circumstances, and the course of treatment. I don’t have many options due to my other health issues and my age also plays a part. My treatment options for cervical and lumbar stenosis include pain medication and lifestyle modifications, that is it. I was told I would end up in a wheelchair with muscles too weak to do much of anything because of my spine and the arthritis I have.

My symptoms will worsen over time, and cervical and lumbar stenosis will result in a decrease in mobility and quality of life for me. I will need to have regular monitoring and care to prevent further deterioration and manage any ongoing symptoms with the medications I take. I have to limit my mobility and stop pushing myself too much, which is hard for me, but worth a try! Rather than go out every day now I space it out to every 2 or 3 days, and I don’t walk to Trails anymore, it is too hard on me. I walk on flat, even ground as much as possible… I still have to move, if I don’t I seize up!

I am not too worried, to be honest with you over this, as I have been preparing myself for years to lose my mobility. I am determined to get as much joy out of it as I can and I have tons of pictures and videos of my adventures I have had over the years to look back on. I may not live a long life, but it was a very rewarding one!

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