Misdiagnosed spinal stenosis does not mean that a stenosis condition does not exist. In fact, spinal stenosis is generally a normal and expected part of spinal aging in the lumbar and cervical regions. Modern diagnostic methods can show the physical changes associated with stenosis in vivid detail, so it is rare that the condition would be diagnosed and not truly exist. However, just because the condition is indeed present does not mean that it is the definitive source of symptoms experienced by the patient. In fact, a great number of back and neck pain sufferers are diagnosed with spinal stenosis as the root cause of their pain, when all along the condition is mild to moderate in intensity and is not considered abnormal or symptomatic in any way.
This iatrogenic mistake is an extremely common occurrence in the back pain sector and proves that spinal stenosis can be yet another structural scapegoat.
Misdiagnosed Spinal Stenosis Incidence
Sure, you may have the physical changes associated with central canal stenosis or neuroforaminal stenosis. However, so does a large percentage of the population. In most instances, the usual causes of spinal stenosis are parts of typical aging patterns seen in the human spine and do not represent any risk for health problems or chronic severe symptoms.
We all know that arthritis is a cause of spinal stenosis and that degenerative disc disease is a contributor to spinal stenosis. However, these are both universal parts of getting older and there exists no correlation between the occurrence of these structural changes and the incidence of back or neck pain. Herniated discs can also cause spinal stenosis, but research statistics show little, if any, correlation between the existence of any variety of chronic back pain and the incidence of intervertebral herniations.
It is vital to remember that some of the abnormalities diagnosed as causing back, neck or sciatica pain are coincidental to the symptomatic expression. This has been documented time and time again in the medical literature.
Motivations for Misdiagnosis
Why would a doctor or chiropractor diagnose mild stenosis as the source of pain, when it is just a normal part of getting older? Well, there are many answers for this query and none of them are good:
The care provider did not perform adequate diagnostic testing in order to rule out other structural issues as the true source. Some providers take preliminary x-rays or simply do a physical exam to make the diagnosis. This is a travesty of medicine in most cases.
The care provider did not recommend neurological correlation and basically skipped the most important step in the diagnostic process.
The care provider is simply ignorant of the latest findings in the field or is still using antiquated diagnostic and stenosis treatment protocols. This is very common. Remember, some of these doctors were educated generations ago and have not stayed up to date.
The care provider recognizes the unlikely nature of the symptoms being caused by the stenosis, but chooses to make money from the patient’s ignorance. I see this constantly and am disgusted by it.
Misdiagnosed Spinal Stenosis Warnings
Do not get me wrong here; I am surely not saying that all stenosis is misdiagnosed, since many diagnoses are pinpoint accurate. Severe and extreme cases of spinal stenosis, which have been studied adequately and correlated clinically, do exist and can be hellish to bear. These cases often require expert medical therapy and sometimes even should be treated using spinal stenosis surgery.However, the mild and moderate cases are rarely to blame for actually sourcing any symptoms, but I estimate about half of the patients currently in treatment for stenosis demonstrate these levels of structural change. Well, this certainly goes a long way to explain the abysmal cure rate among stenosis patients, and back pain sufferers, in general.
Using anatomical change which is normal as a scapegoat for pain, typically to make more money, is a medical and ethical mistake of the highest degree. Eventually, this will become unacceptable, as more and more laymen begin to understand the true facts about spinal stenosis and realize they have been led along like toys for months, years or decades of profitable and ineffective treatment.
I should mention that my pain went on misdiagnosed for 18 years, FYI.
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