What is spinal stenosis?


Quick Answer

WebMD defines spinal stenosis as a condition characterized by a narrowing of the spaces in the spine, which places pressure on the spinal cord and surrounding nerves. Generally, spinal stenosis occurs in the lumbar spine, or lower back, and is associated with pain or numbness in the spine and along the back of the legs In addition to low back and leg pain, symptoms of spinal stenosis include pinched nerves, frequent falling or clumsiness, difficulty walking, tingling and hot or cold sensations in the legs.

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What is spinal stenosis?
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Full Answer

According to the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases, spinal stenosis occurs most commonly in individuals who are 50 years or older. Younger individuals may be affected by spinal stenosis if born with a narrowed spinal canal or if they have suffered traumatic injuries that damaged the spine. In addition to injury and hereditary conditions, WebMD states that spinal stenosis can be caused by aging, arthritis, instability of the spine and abnormal growths, or tumors.

With age, many factors can contribute to the narrowing of the spine, including the thickening of ligaments, the development of small growths and the deterioration of cushioning disks within the vertebrae and the facet joints that form the spinal column. If a spine is unstable, a vertebra can slip, causing spinal narrowing.

Spinal tumors, or soft tissue that grows along the spinal canal, can cause inflammation and overgrowth. This can lead to bone loss and collapse of the spinal column.

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