Spinal Stenosis Explanation

If you’ve been searching for a clear spinal stenosis explanation, this brief article will give you details on what spinal stenosis is and what causes it.

What is Spinal Stenosis?

Stenosis of the spine is a narrowing of the spinal canal. The spinal canal is an opening or channel within the vertebra through which the spinal cord passes. The vertebra provides protection for the spinal cord.

Significant narrowing is associated with increased impairment seen with severe spinal stenosis. Clinical symptoms are therefore often neurologic or nerve related.Stenosis of the spine may be congenital or acquired and may be caused by bony or soft tissues crowding the spinal canal and compressing the spinal cord.

The shape of the spinal canal and the dimensions of the vertebrae are examples of factors that are present at birth, that is, congenital.

Acquired stenosis of the spine may be due to bony overgrowth of facet joints, degenerative changes in the vertebrae or unusual thickening of ligaments. A combination of these is often seen in the vertebrae of the low back resulting in lumbar spinal canal stenosis.

Physical movement of one vertebra over another may also be a cause of severe spinal stenosis. Postoperative stenosis of the spine may be the result of certain surgical procedures such as laminectomies.

Picture of Lumbar Spinal Canal Stenosis

Compare the dimensions of the spinal canals of the lumbar vertebrae pictured. The spinal canal on the right is narrowed due to bony overgrowth resulting from degenerative changes. This is an example of lumbar spinal canal stenosis and would likely result in clinical signs of severe spinal stenosis.

Patients with lumbar spinal canal stenosis are often in their fifties and complain of back and leg pain. The onset of leg pain is associated with walking and may be temporarily relieved by resting or by maintaining a flexed or bent forward posture.

The natural history of spinal stenosis suggests that some patients may improve or remain stable without treatment. About 40% of patients respond positively to spinal manipulation.

That is my spinal stenosis explanation. I hope this has cleared up any misconceptions about this topic.

Cervical Spine Stenosis

Cervical spinal stenosis occurs when the spinal cord or the nerves in your or neck, cervical spine, are compressed. Symptoms of cervical spine stenosis include pain in your neck or shoulders, which may extend into the arms or hands, headaches, muscle weakness and loss of sensation. Occasionally difficulty walking or imbalance may also be noted.

As with lumbar spinal canal stenosis, the most common factors which contribute to the development of cervical spine stenosis are degenerative changes of the vertebrae and changes in the thickness of supporting ligaments.

Severe spinal stenosis may eventually require surgical intervention.