Spinal Stenosis

For the last 6 months, I’ve had pain in my legs when standing or walking, as if they were always near-cramping. I had an MRI done about a month ago and it turns out I have significant spinal stenosis. My doc is referring me to a neurologist to see what we can do.

Anyone else dealing with this? Any tips for the pain or to make walking less of an ordeal? I am a lower-limb amputee and walk with a cane and a below-knee prosthetic already.

Thanks, folks!

My dad was diagnosed with this twenty years ago and there was talk about surgery, but he found other ways to deal with it on a daily basis. First is a regimen of NSAIDs to stop the pain from spiraling any more than it has to. The second one, for him, is that standing and lying down don’t aggravate it while sitting does. So he used a standing desk at work until he retired, and he watches TV while lying down on the sofa, etc.

As I said, his case is his own, rather mild etc.

Keep your thighs strong. Exercise without straining your back. Maybe talk to PT person to help you with a exercise regimen.

My father had spinal stenosis surgery. He was maybe 82 or so, but otherwise in pretty good health. He too was having a lot of pain in his legs, and the operation did relieve the pain. He did not, however, do his physical therapy afterwards and so he did not regain his former mobility. So if you do go for an operation, my only recommendation is to do your exercises afterwards.

On a side note, I have seen many TV commercials for Laser Spine Institute, with their claim of small incisions and minimally invasive surgery for things like spinal stenosis, and of being up and around in a day. I simultaneously wonder and doubt whether my father might have had a better result from them than he did from his traditional surgery and several-inch incision. Anyone have any experience with that?

Gabapentin tided me over for several years until I could no longer put off surgery, in May, when they removed excess bone growth in the spine and fused a couple vertebrae.

The surgery was a success, btw. But I’ve known many people who’ve had worse results. The more extensive the work that is done, the more likely the recovery is not optimal.

Exercising the legs did no good for me. The pain is coming from the nerves being pinched in the spine. Gabapentin keeps the nerves from being so irritated.

Typically, people with spinal stenosis will walk and stand stooped forward, as that tends to relieve the pinching of the nerves. You may find that position is less painful for you.

I use a rollator style walker. That or leaning on a shopping cart seems to help a lot with the pain while walking. Use the electric carts at groceries.

No surgery yet. Morphine gets pain to manageable level, but none of that since I had to move resulting in a change of doctors.

Cortisone shots.

Had two of those. First did not work. Second helped some, but is suspected to have caused my diabetes. If the OP goes that route I’d suggest a serious talk with the doctor. Serious side effects are rare, but can happen.

My Dad was diagnosed with some kind of congenital spinal stenosis or something a couple years back. He definitely has neuropathy in his feet and also has an issue in one of his arms where the muscle was atrophying away and he couldn’t open his hand all the way. He had surgery and they went in through his chest or the front of his neck or something. As far as I can tell or from what he told me it didn’t really improve anything, but I’m also not sure if the surgery was supposed to in fact help his arm, but it didn’t get any better in any event.

Oh, there will be a serious talk with the specialist before I decide on ANYTHING. Messing around the spine seems like a dangerous enough activity that I’ll want the whole story on any therapy first.

Sorry to hear that. It is important ***who ***administers the shots. My first one was at my HMO and it did nothing. Now I go to a well-respected Boston spine center/pain clinic and they are wonderful. One thing that helps is to have the doc use a “guided” xray (being taken while the shot is administered, rather than referring to an older picture).

Mine began in May of 2015, and started with intense hip pain. I saw a hip specialist who referred me to a pain management doc, who referred me to a spinal specialist, who referred me to another spinal surgeon. I was also in line to receive a pain pump or a spinal stimulator. A recent MRI showed that there’s fat in my spinal column, exerting pressure on the spinal cord. So I’m currently trying to lose weight, to see if the fat in my spinal column is related to the fat in my body in general.

I can be on my feet only a few minutes at a time, then I absolutely have to sit down. A walker helps, as does a shopping cart.

For a few years I’ve had pain in my legs after walking or standing for long periods. I put it down to not getting enough exercise. But in the last few months both the pain and the frequency have gotten worse.

About a month ago my doctor gave me the stenosis diagnosis (sounds like and episode of *The Big Bang Theory! *). I’ve been taking OTC pain relief (acetaminophen seems to work better than naproxen), but the doctor just gave me a referral to an orthopedist. So we’ll see what he recommends.

You can’t just attribute its effectiveness on who does the injections, though that could matter. If inflammation is not a significant part of the nerve impingement they are not going to be as useful.

My mother had surgery for lumbar spinal stenosis 34 years ago. I don’t want to bore you with irrelevant details, so I’ll just say that her case was very extreme, made worse by depression and addiction to painkillers, and that she’s been fine since (well, fine about that area). She does get physical therapy every six months and go to a medical masseuse about once a week.


Just saw the orthopedist. The x-rays show the narrowing of the spinal canal, and the doctor says he wants an MRI, but insurance requires a few weeks of PT first. He prescribed gaberpentin in the meantime, and I’ve been enrolled in a study of topical painkillers.

But he thinks surgery is the best bet, after the MRI confirms the diagnosis.

I suspect you were trending that way anyway and it pushed you over the ledge; steroids will normally raise your blood sugar for a bit but then it typically normalizes. If it’s an especially long-lasting form, it might be likelier to have lasting effect on blood sugar.

IIRC, Jayjay is already diabetic, so it’ll play a bit of hell with the sugar control in any case. If you do wind up with steroid shots, discuss with the doc who manages your diabetes and consider medication changes as appropriate in the short term.

I went through four weeks of PT, which has helped significantly. I can stand longer before the pain shows up and it’s less severe than before. When I do get pain, I have some stretches and moves that help relieve it. I now have a series of exercises that I do for about 20 minutes every other day.

When I found out the co-pay for the MRI would be $575, I decided to hold off on getting it, since there’s no particular reason to have it before we decide on surgery. Our deductible is about $7,000, and as long as the pain is manageable, it’s not worth that much to have it done. As long as the pain doesn’t get much worse, or start resisting the exercises, I’ll hold off on surgery until I qualify for Medicare, in a little less than two years.