Spinal stenosis is the narrowing of one or more bony openings within the spine, reducing the space of the nerves. The narrowing occurs when the spinal cord runs down the center (spinal canal) or the nerves exit the spinal canal. Depending on how much narrowing occurs, the spinal nerves could become compressed, causing symptoms such as pain, numbness, tingling, and weakness. Most of the time, spinal stenosis Holmdel occurs due to osteoarthritis’s wear and tear in the spine.
Symptoms of spinal stenosis
The symptoms of spinal stenosis greatly vary for different people and may include one or more of the following;
- Pain. Most patients describe the pain as dull and confined to the lower back or neck. The pain could also be sharp and radiate into the arms or legs, or it may be more of a pins-and-needles tingling sensation. It could also be mild, but it can flare up during certain activities.
- Numbness. You may have reduced or total loss of sensation in your leg, arm, or other body areas.
- Weakness. The muscles served by the compressed nerves may feel weak, and you may have coordination problems. If you have severe spinal cord compression, you may have bowel or bladder dysfunction.
These symptoms may worsen with time, but the rate of progression is variable; some people may have progressive worsening symptoms. Others find that their symptoms improve with a short period of rest, medication, and physical therapy. However, most people with spinal stenosis experience no pain, but sometimes numbness or weakness may be present with little or no discomfort.
Causes of spinal stenosis
Spinal stenosis may result from one or more of the following factors.
Degenerative disc disease
As you advance in age, the spinal discs lose hydration and start to flatten, allowing the vertebrae to rub against each other upon motion. As a result, the bones wear out, and the spine responds by forming bony projections, which may compress the spinal cord. Other times a disc may bulge into the spinal space; this happens when the nucleus pushes through a weak spot in the tough exterior membrane.
Osteoarthritis is when the protective cartilage lining the joints wear out, allowing friction between bones. It mainly attacks the hands, knees, and hips, but it can affect any joint in your body, including the spine. When the cartilage in the facet joints wears out, friction between bones occurs, resulting in bone spurs or osteophytes. Bone spurs can contribute to foramina narrowing, causing spinal stenosis.
Ossification of the ligaments in the spinal canal can also cause spinal stenosis. Over time, these ligaments can become stiff, thicken, and bulge into the spinal canal.
Who is at risk of spinal stenosis?
Spinal stenosis develops with age, so people above 50 years are more susceptible to this problem. However, it can also develop sooner due to an injury or congenital spinal deformity such as scoliosis.
If you have further questions about spinal stenosis, consult your healthcare provider at Gramercy Pain Center.