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Spinal Stenosis and Incontinence
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Spinal Stenosis and Incontinence

My question follows:

I have just been diagnosed as having spinal stenosis it effects lumbar disks 3 to 5.  I have had a bladder control problem for a long time.  Is it possible that the stenosis is impinging on the nerve that controls the bladder?  And if so, what are the odds of surgery correcting the bladder condition? I understand that spinal stenosis surgery has a very low success rate. If the odds of improving my incontinence are high I would risk the surgery, but I would like to know all the risks and potential benefits.

Thank you!
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Depending on how severe the stenosis is, spinal cord compression at practically any level may cause urinary problems.  But before chalking the symptoms up to the spinal stenosis (which may or may not be significant enough to cause them), your bladder problems should be better characterized.  If you've had kids, then you may have a common problem such as stress incontinence in which you have leakage with coughing, laughing, etc...  Talk to your doctor about possibly a formal urodynamics testing to see what volumes your bladder can hold and then is able empty.  It also helps with determining the integrity of your sphincters.

As I have never seen your MRI and do not know any further history, I can't make an accurate prediction as to the prognosis of the urinary problem with or without surgery.  What I can tell you is that if there's no associated leg weakness or sensory changes it would be unlikely that the "spinal stenosis" is the sole cause of your bladder problems.  Usually, at levels above the sacral region (which is below the lumbar section and is the actual region of the urinary control center in the cord) if there is significant cord compression to affect the bowel/bladder function, there shou;ld also be some kind of weakness or sensory changes in the distribution of the lumbar nerves.  Therefore, surgery would likely not be helpful if no other symptoms were present if the stenosis is significantly pushing on the cord.  But again, please keep in mind I have never examined you nor have I reviewed your films personally. Good luck.
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