The Dangers of Undiagnosed Spinal Stenosis
Bill Allen | June 7, 2021 | Personal Injury
You should treat back pain seriously until you determine what is causing the pain. If the injury or condition is not diagnosed and treated, you could sustain permanent disabilities and impairments. Spinal stenosis is a serious medical condition that can have long-term implications.
Spinal Stenosis – Causes and Symptoms
Spinal stenosis occurs when the spaces in the spine begin to narrow. As the spaces narrow, pressure is placed on the nerve roots and spinal cord. The condition usually develops over time, but it can also be caused by an injury to the spine.
The most common location for spinal stenosis is in the lower back and neck. A person may not notice symptoms. Other people may suffer from severe pain.
The signs and symptoms of spinal stenosis include:
- Back pain
- Pain in the neck
- Tingling or numbness of the extremities
- Issues with walking and balance
- Weakness of the legs and ankles
- Pain and cramping in the legs and feet when walking or standing
- Potential urinary urgency and incontinence
If you develop any of the above symptoms, it is imperative that you see a doctor right away. Spinal stenosis may be detected on a CT scan or an MRI, even when the patient has not experienced any symptoms of spinal stenosis. In some cases, the symptoms will appear mild and grow in intensity without treatment.
If your doctor refuses to conduct diagnostic testing, you may want to seek a second opinion. Some doctors brush off complaints of chronic pain and other self-reported symptoms. The result is a failure to diagnose the spinal stenosis until the condition has progressed to a severe level because of non-treatment.
What is the Treatment for Spinal Stenosis?
After a doctor diagnoses the spinal stenosis, treatment may include several nonsurgical options, such as:
- Physical therapy
- Brace massage by trained health care providers
- Medications for pain and inflammation
If the patient does not respond to treatment, a doctor might suggest surgery to repair any damage and relieve your symptoms.
What Are the Dangers of Failing to Diagnose Spinal Stenosis?
There are numerous complications and conditions that could result from a failure to diagnose and treat spinal stenosis. Some of the common consequences of undiagnosed spinal stenosis include:
- Decreased activity. Because the pain is less severe when sitting, the person may give up enjoyable activities, such as bicycling, swimming, jogging, and sports.
- Chronic pain and discomfort. Without treatment for spinal stenosis, a person may experience severe pain and discomfort in the neck, lower back, buttocks, feet, and legs.
- Bowel and bladder control. Severe cases of spinal stenosis can cause the nerves that signal your bladder or bowels to weaken. The weakened nerves can cause you to experience incontinence.
The symptoms of spinal stenosis increase if the condition goes undiagnosed. A person may develop disabling pain, weakness, and other symptoms. Lack of treatment could even result in other conditions, such as anxiety, depression, and anger, due to a person’s health frustrations.
Filing a Claim for Undiagnosed Spinal Stenosis
You could have two separate claims related to the failure to diagnose spinal stenosis. You may have a medical malpractice claim against your doctor for failing to diagnose the condition. If the spinal stenosis was caused by an accident injury, you could also have a claim against the party who caused the injury.
A personal injury lawyer can review your case to determine the types of claims you may be eligible to file and the options for obtaining the money you deserve for your damages.
Damages in a spinal stenosis case could include:
- The cost of medical care and treatment for the condition
- The cost of physical therapy and ongoing medical care
- Expenses related to personal care and in-home health care
- Loss of income, benefits, and earning potential
- Pain, discomfort, and suffering caused by the injury
- Emotional distress and mental anguish
- Loss of enjoyment of life or quality of life
The value of your claim depends on the facts of your case. The steps you take could impact how much money you receive for your personal injury claim. For example, delays in medical care after an accident could hurt your claim. It is always best to see a doctor as soon as possible after an accident or notice symptoms.
A lawyer can work with you to document the extent of your injuries and gather evidence proving fault and liability.