The spinal column contains open spaces that create passageways for the spinal cord and the spinal nerves. Spinal stenosis is a narrowing of (or an intrusion into) these openings. This can cause a compression of the nerves. Spinal stenosis most commonly affects the cervical and lumbar regions of the spine.
What causes spinal stenosis?
Spinal stenosis is most commonly caused by the degeneration of intervertebral discs between the vertebrae. The result is pressure on the nerves and spinal canal by bone spurs (osteophytes) or soft tissue, such as discs, in the spinal canal.
What are the symptoms of spinal stenosis?
Spinal stenosis most often occurs in the lumbar region (lower back). Although spinal stenosis in the neck (cervical) is less common, it is more dangerous because it involves compression of the spinal cord.
Symptoms often include:
- Loss of motor control
- Paresthesia (sensation of “pins and needles”)
When symptoms are persistent, severe and intolerable, surgery is often recommended to relieve pressure on spinal nerves or spinal cord.