What is spinal stenosis?
Spinal stenosis is a common condition that occurs when the small spinal canal containing the nerve roots and spinal cord becomes restricted in one or more areas.
What are symptoms of spinal stenosis?
The narrowing occurs most often in lumbar region (lower back) and can put pressure on the spinal cord or nerves branching out from the affected areas.
Generally, after walking a person with spinal stenosis will experience tremendous pain in the legs, calves and lower back.
Walking up hills causes pain to come on more quickly. This severe pain is usually reproducible and can be immediately relieved by sitting down, or leaning over.
When the spine bends forward, more space is available for the spinal cord and symptoms are relieved.
Not all people with narrowing of the spinal canal experience symptoms.
Why some develop symptomatic stenosis and others do not remains unknown.
The term 'spinal stenosis' refers not to the narrowing of the spinal canal but the condition in which
pain is associated with the narrowing.
What causes spinal stenosis?
Spinal narrowing most commonly results from progressive degenerative changes in the back.
Narrowing of the space around the spinal cord can be due to bony overgrowth from osteoarthritis combined with thickening of one of the ligaments in the back, and a bulge of the intervertebral discs.
Arthritis commonly occurs in the back and spine as a part of the normal ageing process. It can, however, lead to loss of the cartilage between the bones at the joints and the formation of bone spurs (osteophytes).
The discs between the vertebrae can become compressed (degenerative disc disease) and overgrowth (hypertrophy) of the ligamentous structures occurs.
Each of these elements can reduce normal space available for nerves and can compress nerve tissues and cause lumbar spinal stenosis.