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Everything You Should Know About Spinal Stenosis

Signs & Symptoms|Causes|Treatment|Management|Prevention|Conclusion
Everything You Should Know About Spinal Stenosis

Spinal stenosis can happen to almost anyone, but not everyone knows enough about it. Many people ask questions like “What is the best treatment for spinal stenosis” and “What causes it?” Here’s a quick look at what you ought to know.

What Is Spinal Stenosis?

There are spaces in the spine, but when they get narrow it is called spinal stenosis. The narrowed space can put pressure onto the spinal nerves, and it often develops in the neck and lower back.

There are two main types of spinal stenosis, which are cervical stenosis and lumbar stenosis. Cervical stenosis occurs in the spine where your neck is. Lumbar stenosis occurs in the spine where the lower back is, and it is more common.

Signs & Symptoms

What Are the Symptoms of Spinal Stenosis?

People with this condition may not always have symptoms. However, it is possible for the condition to get worse over time, so people may slowly show signs of spinal stenosis with age. The symptoms can also depend on what nerves get affected and where the stenosis is in the spine.

Some common symptoms in the neck are:

  • Trouble with balance and walking
  • Weakness in the leg, foot, arm, or hand

What Are the Complications?

It is important to learn what is the best treatment for spinal stenosis. Otherwise, untreated and severe cases of spinal stenosis can lead to worsen and potentially permanent symptoms, like:

  • Weakness
  • Numbness
  • Balance issues

Who Has a Higher Risk of Developing Spinal Stenosis?

Spinal stenosis can develop in anyone, but it is more common for people who are older than 50 years old. Older people are more prone to bone problems, which is why it can occur with age. Younger people with arthritis, traumatic imaging, spinal issues, etc., may also have a higher risk of getting spinal stenosis.

  • Numbness or tingling in the leg, foot, arm, or hand
  • Bowel or bladder control dysfunction in serious cases

Some common symptoms in the lower back are:

  • Back pain
  • Weakness in the leg or foot
  • Loss of sensation or tingling in the foot or leg
  • Cramping or pain in a single or both legs. It can occur when walking or standing for long periods.


What Causes Spinal Stenosis?

The main cause of spinal stenosis is the narrowing of spaces in the spine. The narrowing space can be caused by many factors, which can include:

  • Bone Overgrowth

    Osteoarthritis can cause wear and tear on the spinal bones that can cause bone spurs to form, and the bone spurs might grow into a spinal canal. Paget’s disease can also cause overgrowth of bone in the spine.

  • Thickened Ligaments

    Thick ligaments occur when the cords that hold the spinal bones become thick and stiff, bulging into a spinal canal.

  • Herniated Disks

    A disk is a cushion that absorbs shock, but they can dry out as people age, causing them to crack. The cracks in a disk can release the soft inner material of the disk, pressing the material onto the nerves or spinal cord.

  • Spinal Injuries

    Trauma like car accidents can fracture or cause dislocations in one or multiple vertebrae. Other injuries from trauma can cause swelling tissue, placing pressure on the nerves or spinal cord.

  • Tumors

    Growths can occur in the spinal cord, and they can grow in the spaces between the vertebrae and spinal cord or on the membrane that covers a spinal cord.


Spinal Stenosis Treatment

The treatment for spinal stenosis will depend on the severity, cause, and location. Some doctors may only monitor people with very mild cases, but some common treatments for moderate to severe cases include:

  • Medications

    Pain relievers, opioids, anti-seizure drugs, antidepressants, etc.

  • Steroid injections
  • Physical therapy
  • Spinal stenosis surgery

So, what is the best treatment for spinal stenosis? It will depend on the doctor’s assessment of your particular circumstance, since each person will benefit from different treatments.


Spinal Stenosis Management

It would be best to see a doctor to talk about the best treatments for your case of spinal stenosis. However, there are some home remedies that you can try to add to the doctor’s prescribed treatments, which include:

  • Placing cold or hot packs onto the affected area
  • Exercise (following a doctor’s recommendations)
  • Using a walker or cane
  • Keeping a healthy weight


Can You Prevent Spinal Stenosis?

Unfortunately, there is no guaranteed way to prevent spinal stenosis. It can still happen to fairly healthy people as they age, but there are some preventative measures people can try:

  • Stretch regularly
  • Moderate exercise
  • Weight management


Spinal stenosis can happen to anyone, so it is important to educate yourself about it as early as possible. Remember all the tips above and consult a doctor if you think you have spinal stenosis.

Learn more about Other Bone Diseases here.

Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

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Written by Ruby Anne Hornillos Updated Jul 01, 2021
Fact Checked by Hello Doctor Medical Panel