The thecal sac is a part of human anatomy, and it covers a portion of the spine, enclosing cerebral-spinal fluid, surrounding the spinal cord to protect it. It goes on the spine all the way through the S1 to S3 spinal levels, moving with it as it flexes.
Through the liquid contained in the thecal sac, the neurons and nerves in your spinal cord are able to communicate, thus making movement and feeling possible. Needless to say, the thecal sac is a crucial aspect of your nervous system, and its afflictions can pose a serious threat to your health.
Thecal sac impingement is one of serious medical conditions that can affect your spine and your mobility. Since its mission is to insulate and protect all the sensitive nerve tissue in the spine, its malfunctioning can affect not only your mobility, but also cause significant discomfort and pain.
The Symptoms of Thecal Sac Impingement
Sometimes, the thecal sac becomes compressed by non-threatening causes; it is only temporary and it doesn’t cause major concern. A particularly challenging workout session or a fall may cause this temporary impingement or pressure, and while it may feel a bit uncomfortable it should pass in a few days.
Still, if the impingement of the thecal sac goes in too deep, more permanent damage can occur, and the symptoms will be proportionally more severe.
Here are the most common symptoms of thecal sac impingement. If you experience any of these, you should schedule a doctor’s appointment right away.
- Durable and significant back pain, especially in the lower spine;
- Reduced mobility in the entire back and shoulders area;
- Numbness, tingling sensations or muscle weakness in the lower body (the legs and shoulders);
- Morphological modifications, caused by disc hernia (the lumbar discs become displaced, due to the pressure of the sac impingement) – such transformations may be similar to those caused by sciatica.
Some of these symptoms can be caused by underlying issues, some of which can be stand-alone causes for concern. These rather serious causes include tumors, spinal fractures, spinal abscesses or osteophytes. As a key take-away, whenever you experience recurrent back pain and other symptoms from the above list, go get the matter checked out.
Bear in mind that even though most of the problems derived from thecal sac impingement are located in the lower back area, patients often experience a mirroring effect. This means that they feel pain and discomfort in the upper reaches of the spine as well, near the neck.
Since the spine is attempting to balance itself out in order to relieve the pressure from a troublesome area, it may cause an adjustment of its angle in other areas of its length. In a similar way to scoliosis, suffering from thecal sac impingement may cause your neck and upper back to become hunched and to start hurting as well.
Lumbar Spinal Stenosis
Older patients can also suffer from a particular form of thecal sac impingement, called lumbar spinal stenosis, which means that some nerve terminations in the back get trapped, due to the pressure. This leads to a host of unpleasant symptoms, including muscle weakness, reduced blow flow, numbness, leg fatigue and even bowel malfunctions.
While the symptoms of lumbar spinal stenosis aren’t as life-threatening as the more serious forms of thecal sac impingement, it can still make the patient’s life very difficult. There are ways to treat this condition and manage the symptoms effectively; all you need to do it is discuss it with your doctor.
What Are the Treatment Options for Thecal Sac Impingement?
To give you an idea of what you can expect when dealing with thecal sac impingement, we will give you an outline of the most common courses of treatment. Since there can be many causes for this condition (some of them being serious diseases themselves), there is no one-shoe-fits-all solution to this.
Here are the most common treatment options, presented from mildest to the most radical.
Depending on the particulars of your case, your doctor may recommend you to either:
a) Treat the underlying condition first, and the symptoms of thecal sac impingement may go away in time, after the problem is solved;
c) Visit a chiropractor for regular treatments
d) Get epidural injections (for the more serious cases)
e) Have spinal surgery (for the most serious of cases) and only as a last resort.
The last option of treatment should only be considered if all else fails. Usually, doctors prescribe at least 3 months of chiropractic treatment and massages before going ahead with the surgery, even for the difficult cases.