Overview | Causes | Symptoms | Diagnosis | Treatment | FAQ
Stenosis is a condition that can develop as a person ages, particularly
in those over 50. It is characterized by a narrowing of the spinal
canal, which places pressure on the spinal cord and nerves, because
there is not enough room for them. It resembles placing a ring on
your finger. If the finger becomes injured or inflamed, the ring
constricts and causes pain. The pain caused by stenosis is typically
focused in the low back area and can shoot down the legs and flare
up after walking or exercising.
Narrowing of the spinal canal may be genetic. However, the primary
contributing factor to the development of stenosis is degenerative
disc disease. As the spine undergoes changes in stability, density
and size, this can result in less space for and more pressure on
the spinal structures.
When one area of the spine is injured, it is more likely
that spinal health in other areas will fail. Conditions that may encourage
the development of stenosis include scoliosis, osteoarthritis, rheumatoid
arthritis, spinal tumors and trauma.
Symptoms of stenosis include a deep aching in the low back, buttocks
and thigh, and intense numbness or pain in the legs and sometimes
the shoulders. Symptoms can be brought on by walking and exercise.
If you have stenosis, you may notice that pain is sometimes relieved
by sitting or by a position in which the spine is flexed forward
and bending over. Consequently, people with stenosis may walk with
a hunched over posture and find that their pain worsens when bending
backward. Severe cases of stenosis will display more serious symptoms
such as loss of bowel and bladder function and loss of feeling in
Outlined below are some of the diagnostic tools that your physician
may use to gain insight into your condition and determine the best
treatment plan for your condition.
Illustration copyright Swarm Interactive, used by permission.
In many cases, changing posture and using spinal injections can control
the symptoms for a long period of time. Stenosis can be treated nonsurgically,
but some cases require surgery in order to create more space around
Pain can be relieved by flexing forward and bending over.
Taking anti-inflammatories may be beneficial, especially ibuprofen
products like Advil or Nuprin. Acetominophen (Tylenol) can be taken
for pain, if you are allergic to ibuprofen. A physical therapy program
can be followed that incorporates stretches and movements that extend
the spine. Injections may be used to reduce inflammation and control
pain symptoms. Try our home remedy exercises provided. Stop if they
cause an increase in pain or symptoms.
The most common surgery to treat stenosis is called a
laminectomy, which helps create more space for the surrounding spinal
nerves. Now at SpineNevada there is a new non-fusion treatment option for spinal stenosis.
Dr. James Lynch at SpineNevada Minimally Invasive Spine Institute recently became the first in
Northern Nevada to use the coflex® Dynamic Stabilization device for the treatment of Spinal
Stenosis. This non-fusion treatment option can help spinal stenosis patients return to activity
faster than with traditional surgical options. Please click here to learn more about the coflex® Dynamic Stabilization device.
Although degenerating discs are the most common cause of spinal stenosis,
spinal tumors, injury, bone disease and other conditions can lead to
stenosis as well. For example, primary stenosis results from diseases
that are present at birth, while acquired stenosis is typically the
result of degeneration in the spine.
If pain interferes with your daily activities, you should consult a
spine specialist to treat your stenosis. Leg pain that worsens is especially
an indicator of spinal stenosis. This type of pain is not a normal
part of the aging process.
Treatment for spinal stenosis aims at minimizing the effects and symptoms
of the stenosis but does not stop the progression of degenerative changes.
Adopting a healthy lifestyle that includes exercise can help prevent
disc degeneration. Click here to learn more about degenerative disc
If your pain is severe enough or if walking has become difficult, your
physician may consider surgery as an option for you. However, nonsurgical,
conservative treatments are usually effective at treating spinal stenosis.
Educational content copyright 2019 ©Prizm Development, Inc. All rights reserved. PrizmDevelopment.com • Centers of Excellence for Better Healthcare