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What is Spinal Stenosis?

In the rear of each vertebra, we have a large opening called the spinal canal. The spinal cord runs through this opening in both the cervical and thoracic regions of the spine.

This opening contains a bundle of nerve roots in the lumbar region of the spine. Openings called foramina branch away from the spinal canal.

What is Spinal Stenosis?

When the foramina (the openings allowing space for the spinal cord and nerves) become narrowed, the result may be a compression of the spinal nerves against the vertebral bone. We may see this in two regions of the spine:

  • the cervical region

  • the lumbar region

This means that you can have spinal stenosis that will cause you back pain (lumbar), or spinal stenosis that will cause you neck pain (cervical).

Symptoms Of Spinal Stenosis

Lumbar Spinal Stenosis

Symptoms of spinal stenosis depend upon:

  • The location of the stenosis

  • The severity of the problem

Spinal stenosis can cause the following symptoms:

  • Increased Pain

  • Some weakness

  • Feelings of numbness and/or tingling in the arms and legs

Stenosis may also result in a condition known as sciatica. Sciatica may cause pain in the legs up into the buttocks. It can be very painful, and in some cases it may also cause a loss of bowel and bladder control.

What Are the Causes of Spinal Stenosis?

Oftentimes when stenosis is present, it's because osteoarthritis has resulted in an excess bone growth around the spinal nerves, in turn causing the stenosis.

It can also be caused by the following:

  • Fractures and/or dislocations of the vertebral bone

  • Soft tissue that has crept into the open spaces in the spine

  • Tumours

  • Herniated discs

  • Spinal ligaments that have thickened and are pressing against the nerves of the spine

  • Genetic factors, such as having a small spinal canal with limited room for nerves

Treatment For Spinal Stenosis

Dr. Ernest Braxton, Dr. Matthew Gnirke, and Dr. Scott Raub

Luckily, there is treatment available for this condition. Here are some of the ways we can treat spinal stenosis:

  • Anti-inflammatories

  • Steroid injections

  • Physical therapy

In the case that these approaches do not provide relief for the condition, we may consider surgery to relieve pressure upon the nerves.

If you think you may have the symptoms of spinal stenosis, get evaluated as soon as possible. To learn more about this condition, visit our common spine conditions page here for a short video:


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