WHAT IS SPINAL STENOSIS?
Spinal stenosis is a narrowing of one or more areas of the spine. This narrowing, which occurs most often in the lower back or neck, can put pressure on the spinal cord or nerves that branch out from the squeezed areas. Typically, a person with this condition complains of severe pain in the legs, calves or lower back when standing or walking. Pain may come on more quickly when walking up or down a hill, a ramp or steps. Usually, it is relieved by sitting down or leaning over.
However, not all patients with spinal narrowing develop symptoms – and we still don’t understand why. Because of this, the term “spinal stenosis” actually refers to the symptoms of pain and not to the narrowing itself.
SPINAL STENOSIS SYMPTOMS
Many people have signals of spinal stenosis that show on an MRI or CT scan, although they may not have symptoms. When symptoms do occur, they often start off slowly and get worse over time. Symptoms of Spinal Stenosis vary depending on which nerves are affected and the location of the stenosis.
- Numbness or tingling in a hand, arm, foot or leg
- Weakness in a hand, arm, foot or leg
- Problems with walking and balance
- Neck pain
- In severe cases, bowel or bladder dysfunction (urinary urgency and incontinence)
- Pain or cramping in one or both legs when you stand for long periods of time or when you walk.
- Back pain
SPINAL STENOSIS CAUSES
Some people are born with a narrow spinal canal. However, spinal narrowing is most often due to age-related changes that take place over time.
The risk of developing spinal stenosis increases if:
- You were born with a narrow spinal canal
- You are female
- You are 50 years+
- You’ve had a previous spinal injury
Medical conditions may cause spinal stenosis includes:
- Spinal tumors
- Paget’s Disease
- Osteoarthritis and bone spurs.
- Inflammatory spondyloarthritis
Other Possible Causes of Spinal Stenosis Includes:
- Overgrowth of bone. Damage from osteoarthritis on your spinal bones can prompt the formation of bone spurs. These can grow into the spinal canal causing irritation and pain.
- Herniated disks. The disks between your vertebrae act as shock absorbers and are soft cushions that tend to degrade with age.
- Thickened ligaments. The tough cords that help hold the bones of your spine together can become stiff and thickened over time.
- Tumors. Abnormal growths can form inside the spinal cord, within the membranes that cover the spinal cord or in the space between the spinal cord and vertebrae. These are revealed with medical imaging procedures such as MRI & CT scans.
- Spinal injuries. An injury involving the spine such as a slip and fall or car accident can trigger the progression of Spinal Stenosis. It is important to see a specialists as soon as possible after being involved in an injury.
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