Spinal stenosis, at its most basic, is a narrowing of the spaces within the spine. The more constricted area can put pressure on the spinal nerves, which in turn causes pain. It is most often experienced in the lower back or neck. Depending on the location within the spine, the stenosis can be known as cervical (in the neck) or lumbar (in the lower back).
What Are the Causes of Spinal Stenosis?
Although it’s possible that the spinal canal can be small from time of birth, spinal stenosis can also be caused by one or more of the following:
Overgrowth of Bone – Bone spurs from osteoarthritis can grow into the spinal canal.
Herniated Discs – Cartilaginous material from the discs, the cushions between the bones of the spine, can slip out of its normal position and press against the spinal nerves.
Thickened Ligaments – The spine is held together by strong ligaments. These can become tougher and enlarge over time putting pressure on the spinal nerves.
Tumors – Very rarely, growths can occur in the spine. In some cases, these can grow into the spinal canal, causing back pain.
Trauma – After a spinal injury, bone fragments or swelling could adversely affect the spinal canal.
What are Symptoms of Spinal Stenosis?
Symptoms can include numbness or tingling, weakness, diminished balance, neck pain, persistent lower back pain, incontinence, and pain or cramping in the legs when standing for long periods of time.
How Is It Diagnosed?
If any of the above symptoms are experienced, a consultation with a medical professional might be a good idea. They may recommend an imaging test, such as an MRI or CT scan, to confirm the presence of a diminished spinal cavity and/or spinal stenosis.
How Is It Treated?
Treatments for this issue vary and are usually commensurate with the severity of the symptoms. Your physician may determine that neurosurgery is the best course of action. Procedures involve surgery to decompress the nerves.
How Can I Find Out More About Spinal Stenosis?
If you’re looking for a neurosurgeon in the Hudson Valley region of New York State, learn more about our board-certified neurosurgeons at Hudson Valley Brain & Spine Surgery.