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Have lumbar spinal stenosis and invasive decompression surgery scheduled. Experiencing incontinence, urinary retention. Why cramps?

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Practicing since : 2001
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I have lumbar spinal stenosis L4-5 at 4mm along with less severe issues L1-S1. I am scheduled for non invasive decompression surgery in a couple of weeks. Two questions, I have nighttime incontinence but daytime urinary retention along with occasional lower abdominal spasms that are very painful...and just in the past couple of days I have been having horrendous leg & ankle cramps in one leg - 3-4 times a day. Are these thing related to each other, to back issues? Advice?
Posted Mon, 16 Apr 2012 in Brain and Spine
Answered by Dr. Shiva Kumar R 21 hours later

Thanks for your query.

I appreciate your efforts for medical consultation in so much distress.

Important aspects of your query are:
• Lumbar canal stenosis from L1-S1, maximum at L4-5
• Night time incontinence
• Day time urinary retention
• Abdominal spasms
• Leg cramps

I personally feel all these problems are related to extensive lumbar canal stenosis. Irritation to the roots when they exit the spinal canal can cause problems like leg cramps and abdominal muscle spasms. However, urinary incontinence in the night time is due to full bladder due to retention and then over flows in the night time manifesting as incontinence.

All these symptoms suggest involvement of the roots extensively and we call this syndrome as conus cauda syndrome. Decompression is urgently required in you to prevent permanent deficits. You need to discuss the pros and cons of invasive vs. noninvasive procedure with the consultant and go for the best one which has maximum benefits.

I hope this information has been both informative and helpful for you. In case of any doubt, I will be available for follow ups. Please accept my answer in case you do not have further queries.

Wish you good health.


Dr. Shiva Kumar R
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