Understanding Spinal Stenosis
This spinal narrowing can irritate the spinal cord itself or the nerve roots as they exit the spinal cord. As stenosis progresses, your spinal cord and its nerves are compressed or squeezed. The most common cause of spinal stenosis is the aging process, and is often found in patients over 50 years of age.
When spinal stenosis occurs in the neck it is called cervical stenosis. It can also happen in the lower back and is called lumbar spinal stenosis. The most common symptoms are pain, numbness, or muscle weakness into the legs, feet, or buttocks.
As we get older, our spinal bones may develop arthritis, ligaments that connect the vertebra may buckle and/or intervertebral discs may bulge or herniate. All of these degenerative changes can lead to spinal stenosis, which causes the space within the spinal canal to narrow. Spinal stenosis can occur at any level of the spine, however, it is more common in the lumbar spine and the cervical spine.
Some of the factors that cause spinal stenosis are:
- Degeneration of tissues
- Excessive bone growth (arthritis)
- Thickening of tissue in the canal (such as ligaments or cartilage)
- Herniated disc
- Genetics (naturally narrow canal)
- Sedentary lifestyle