Spinal stenosis is the narrowing of spaces in the spine (backbone) which causes pressure on the spinal cord and/or nerves. About 75% of cases of spinal stenosis occur in the low back (lumbar spine). In most cases, the narrowing of the spine associated with stenosis compresses the nerve root, which can cause pain along the back of the leg.
What Causes Spinal Stenosis?
There are many potential causes for spinal stenosis, including aging, spurs , arthritis, heredity, instability of the spine or Spondylolisthesis, tumors of the spine, and/or trauma.
What Are the Symptoms of Spinal Stenosis?
Spinal stenosis may result in low back pain as well as pain in the legs. Stenosis may pinch the nerves that control muscle power and sensation in the legs. Additional symptoms may include frequent falling, clumsiness, pain and difficulty when walking, and/or numbness, tingling, hot/ cold feelings in the legs.
How Is Spinal Stenosis Diagnosed?
Spinal stenosis can be difficult to diagnose because its symptoms can be caused by other conditions. Usually, people who develop stenosis have no history of back problems or any recent injury. Often, unusual leg symptoms are a clue to the presence of spinal stenosis. If simple treatments, such as postural changes or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, do not relieve the problem, special imaging studies may be needed to determine the cause of the problem. An MRI (magnetic resonance image) or CAT (computed tomography) scan may be requested. A myelogram (an X-ray taken after a dye is injected into the spine) may be performed. These and other imaging studies can offer details about the bones and tissues and help with diagnosis.
How Is Spinal Stenosis Treated?
Spinal stenosis can be treated several ways. Treatment options include changes in posture, medications, rest, and/or surgery.