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Spine Problems Versus Natural Aging

Patients will often say, “I thought I was just getting old! I didn’t realize there was something wrong!” It’s important to recognize symptoms of spine problems versus symptoms of natural aging. 

Patients will often say, “I thought I was just getting old! I didn’t realize there was something wrong!” It’s important to recognize symptoms of spine problems versus symptoms of natural aging. 

I recently had a patient who noticed that her legs became weak after walking for prolonged periods. She loved to walk for exercise and did this daily. She especially loved to walk at Disneyland! But over time these symptoms worsened and her legs became painful when walking. She would find relief if she stopped to sit down or if she leaned forward on a shopping cart or walker. Progressively, her leg weakness and pain with walking interfered with her quality of life. She couldn’t enjoy Disneyland like she wanted to. She wasn’t able to walk for exercise. 

Disneyland

When we met for her first visit at our SCCNS clinic, she adamantly denied back pain. Her back didn’t bother her at all. In fact, she didn’t understand why she was referred to us and how her leg symptoms could be a result of her back. She attributed all these symptoms to “getting older”. 

What she didn’t realize, was this was not simply weakness from natural aging, this was spinal stenosis resulting in neurogenic claudication. Her spinal canal and spinal cord were compressed by a combination of disc material, ligament thickening, and bone and joint overgrowth. While she wasn’t experiencing back pain, her symptoms were a direct result of this lumbar spine problem. This is why her symptoms would improve and even resolve when she slightly leaned forward on a shopping cart or walker as this position opens up the spinal canal. 

Spine Problems Versus Natural Aging

We were able to do a simple surgery called a laminectomy and medial facetectomy. This involves removing a small amount of bone to open up the spinal canal. Her surgery was less than an hour and she went home the same day.

At her 6 weeks post-operative visit, I excitedly shared with Dr. Mesiwala before walking in the room that our patient was already able to spend the day at Disneyland without any pain. She declared to him, “I feel young again!”

Do you have any of these symptoms? Visit us here to set up your first consultation.