What Is Stenosis of the Spine?


Quick Answer

Spinal stenosis is a condition characterized by a narrowing of the spine's open spaces that puts pressure on the nerves located in the spine and on the spinal cord. Most often, spinal stenosis is seen in the lower back and the neck. Spinal stenosis can be caused by aging, heredity, arthritis, spinal instability, spinal tumors, trauma or injury, according to WebMD.

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What Is Stenosis of the Spine?
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Full Answer

Wear and tear on the spine that occurs naturally with aging is the most common cause of spinal stenosis, according to Mayo Clinic. Symptoms of spinal stenosis include pain, muscle weakness, numbness and problems with bowel or bladder functions. Pinched nerves associated with spinal stenosis can cause hot or cold sensations in the legs.

Special imaging studies including magnetic resonance imaging, or MRI, or computed tomography, CT, scans are sometimes obtained that can be helpful during the diagnostic process. The American College of Rheumatology notes that regular exercise and medication can generally alleviate the pain and stiffness of spinal stenosis. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory pain relievers such as naproxen or ibuprofen are commonly recommended. Cortisone injections can sometimes be helpful in providing more lasting pain relief. Surgery to remove the buildup of bone or bony spurs in the spinal column is sometimes also recommended.

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