Spinal Stenosis

Spinal stenosis occurs when the channels that the spinal cord or nerve roots travel through become increasingly narrow resulting in compression of the cord or nerve. It can lead to pain in the lower back, legs, neck, arms, or hands, depending on where the spinal cord or nerves are being compressed.

Symptoms:

  • Numbness, weakness, or tingling in a leg, foot, arm or hand
  • Neck or shoulder pain
  • Loss of bowel or bladder control
  • Pain or cramping in the legs after standing for long periods of time or when walking
  • Decreased symptoms while leaning forward or sitting

Common causes:

  • Osteoarthritis - the facet joints between vertebrae deteriorate with time. Bone spurs may develop, narrowing the spinal passages
  • Disk degeneration - cushions between vertebrae flatten, bulge, and may press on the spinal cord and nerve roots
  • Thickened ligaments - tough cords that hold the spine together become stiff and thick over time, which can narrow the spinal canal and compress nervous tissue
  • Spinal tumors -tumors may compress the spinal cord and nerve roots
  • Spinal injuries - trauma can cause movement and/or fractures of one or more vertebrae which may damage the contents of the spinal canal

Risk Factor:

  • Age - most common above age 50
  • Genetics - birth defects may result in a spinal canal that is more narrow than usual