What is Spinal Stenosis?

Spinal stenosis meaning or definition includes narrowing; add spinal to this, and we get the narrowing of the spinal passage.

Spinal stenosis is a condition in which the spinal canal becomes narrowed, placing pressure on the spinal cord and nerves.

More specifically, spinal stenosis refers to the slow, progressive narrowing of the space in your spine reserved for your spinal cord and other spinal nerves. It is a condition that becomes more common as we age and can have a severe impact on our daily lifestyle and activity level if left untreated. Think about spinal stenosis as if the walls of your spine are slowly closing in on your spinal cord. If left untreated, the walls will eventually crush in on the cord, making the section practically useless while causing enormous amounts of pain.

Spinal stenosis is not a condition that develops overnight, it is almost always preceded by more common conditions such as spinal bone spurs, a herniated disc, disc bulges, disc tears, or scarring from previous injuries or treatments. Over time, if these other conditions are left untreated and allowed to progress, symptoms of spinal stenosis will begin to be felt. For this reason, it is very important to be proactive in dealing with your pain.

Spinal Canal Narrowing Found in Spinal Stenosis

In a normal spine, there is no evidence of spinal canal narrowing; therefore there is no pressure being placed on the spinal cord/nerves. In cases of spinal stenosis, there is evidence of spinal canal narrowing. The narrowing constricts the spinal cord and surrounding nerves, causing pain and other symptoms.

If you think you are suffering from spinal stenosis, you should know that there are different stages of stenosis and that the treatment you need will be different depending on what stage your stenosis is in.

Spinal Stenosis Complications

Spinal stenosis can start rather slowly with little or no symptoms. But over time it can lead to trouble walking and a loss of bowel or bladder control. Unfortunately, in the case of mild symptoms, some traditional non-invasive treatments can help, but with severe spinal stenosis, a patient may need surgery.

Spinal Stenosis Types

There are several types of spinal stenosis, each affecting a different area of the spine.

  • Lumbar spinal stenosis occurs in the lower back and can cause pain, numbness, and weakness in the legs. It is most commonly caused by degenerative changes in the spine, such as arthritis and herniated discs.
  • Cervical spinal stenosis is located in the neck and can cause pain, numbness, and weakness in the arms. It can be caused by degenerative changes in the spine, as well as trauma or tumors.
  • Thoracic spinal stenosis is usually in the upper back and can cause pain, numbness, and weakness in the legs. It is less common than lumbar or cervical stenosis and can be caused by congenital defects or tumors.
  • Congenital spinal stenosis is present at birth and can affect any area of the spine. It is caused by a congenital defect in the spinal canal and can cause varying degrees of neurological symptoms.

Treatment for spinal stenosis depends on the type, cause, and severity of the condition. Options may include physical therapy, medications, and in severe cases, surgery.