What Is Spinal Stenosis?Do you suffer from back pain that typically worsens while standing up, or radiates out into your arms and legs? You may be suffering from spinal stenosis.
Occurring most frequently among adults over the age of 50, the condition involves the narrowing of the spinal canal, leading to compression of the spinal cord and nearby nerves. The spine is comprised of 26 stacked bones, known as vertebra. These bones provide structure for the body and serve to protect the spinal cord. Despite this protection, the spinal cord can be vulnerable to compression in several areas, including:
- The hollow area in the middle of the spine (i.e., the spinal canal)
- The areas where peripheral nerves branch off of the spinal cord
- The space between vertebrae
When the spinal cord compresses at these areas, it can lead to symptoms of chronic pain and discomfort, as well as reduced mobility of the lower extremities.
In some instances of spinal stenosis, the patient may report no symptoms. Typically, though, symptoms do tend to emerge slowly and progressively worsen over time. Some of the most common spinal stenosis symptoms include:
- Neck pain, related to cervical spinal stenosis
- Lower back pain, related to lumbar spinal stenosis
- Limb pain (i.e., pain in the legs and arms)
- Limited mobility
- Muscle cramping
- Numbing sensations
- Muscle weakness
- Foot problems
- Pain that radiates down the leg
- Pain that increases when standing, rather than sitting or lying down
These symptoms of spinal stenosis can begin to cause impairments in the patient’s daily functioning. For instance, patients may begin to have difficulty standing for extended periods or trouble walking. Further, they may be unable to tolerate being active on a day-to-day basis.
Causes Of Spinal StenosisWhile spinal stenosis occurs most frequently among older adults, the condition can also be congenital.
Most cases of spinal stenosis emerge as the result of degenerative arthritis. Degenerative arthritis develops from typical daily wear and tear placed on the spine. This daily stress over time leads to a breakdown in the connective tissue that normally provides cushioning between the in