Spinal stenosis typically occurs in the lower back and neck, and is often related to osteoarthritis. When the spaces within the spine begin to narrow, pressure is applied to the nerves that travel throughout the spine, resulting in this condition. Spinal stenosis is commonly caused by wear-and-tear changes, and may be difficult to identify based on intensity and location.
There are two primary types of spinal stenosis: cervical and lumbar.
Cervical stenosis occurs in the neck, and symptoms include neck pain, weakness, numbness or tingling in the foot, leg, arm or hand.
Lumbar stenosis takes place in the part of the spine located in the lower back. This is the most common form of spinal stenosis, and involves pain or cramping in the legs when standing for long periods of time. Other symptoms include back pain, or numbness and weakness in the foot or leg.
Causes of Spinal Stenosis
Most often, this condition occurs when a specific event causes the open space within the spine to narrow. However, some people are born with a small spinal canal.
There are several factors involved with spinal stenosis, and one is the overgrowth of bone. When the spinal bones experience wear-and-tear damage from osteoarthritis, it can cause bone spurs to form. When this happens, the bone spurs can then grow into the spinal canal, causing mild to severe pain.
Ligaments are the cords that help hold the bones of your spine together. Over time, these can become stiff and thickened. When this happens, the thickened ligaments can bulge into the spinal canal, resulting in spinal stenosis.
Trauma or car accidents that cause dislocations or fractures of one or more vertebrae can affect the spine and cause spinal stenosis as well. The spinal canal can be damaged when the bone is displaced from a spinal fracture.
Risks and Treatment
This condition is most commonly seen in people over the age of 50. However, spinal stenosis can occur in younger people who have experienced trauma, scoliosis or a genetic disease that affects bone and muscle development throughout the body.
Treatment for spinal stenosis varies based on signs and symptoms. Meet with a physician first to discuss which options are available and appropriate for you. If your condition is mild, your physician may suggest practicing a few self-care tips at home. Surgery could also be an option if other treatments haven’t helped.
If you are experiencing any of the symptoms mentioned above, it may be time to seek consultation to ensure that the condition does not worsen, and that you can live a healthy, pain-free life.
This article was adapted from Mayo Clinic. Read the full article here.
If you have any questions about spinal stenosis, please contact Campbell Clinic to meet with a physician.