Spinal stenosis is a narrowing of spinal canal caused by the spinal cord. As its name implies, the spinal cord is a bundle or nerves that runs down your middle back. It transmits messages from your brain to the rest of your system. Although anyone can get spinal stenosis it is more common in older people. About two-thirds (or 65%) of those with spinal stenosis have reached that age. Some evidence suggests that spinal stenosis is more common in women. It is unclear if the difference is due to anatomical differences or women being more likely to seek medical treatment. (1)
Three types of spinal stenosis exist: central canal, lateral recess, and foramina. The most common form is central canal stenosis. The central canal of the spinal cord narrows. Spinal stenosis may occur anywhere along the spine but it is most common at the neck and lower back.
This condition is usually caused by changes in the spine that occur with age, such as osteoarthritis or bone spurs. As we age, the discs that separate the vertebrae can shrink and narrow the space in the spinal column. This can narrow the spinal canal, putting pressure on the nerve roots and spinal cord. Symptoms can vary and change over time. Some of the more common symptoms, depending on where the stenosis is located, include back pain, neck pain, numbness, or tingling, or weakness in the legs or arms.
In severe cases, spinal degeneration can cause bladder and bowel problems. Although there is no cure, there are treatment options that can relieve the symptoms. Treatments may include medication, physical therapy or surgery. According to a new study, surgery is better than nonsurgical treatments for this condition.
More than 350 patients with spinal stenosis were studied. The study randomly assigned all of the participants to either nonsurgical or surgical treatment. The results showed people who underwent surgery had a greater chance of experiencing significant improvements in their symptoms compared to those who did not.
The results of these studies suggest that spinal stenosis patients may benefit from surgery. More research is required to confirm these findings. In the section on treatment, we’ll cover this treatment option and others that are effective for spinal stenosis.