Spinal Stenosis: An Overview

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Spinal stenosis is a condition characterized by the narrowing of open spaces in your spine. This condition cases your spinal cord to become pinched in between your vertebrae. The pain that results most commonly affects the neck and the back.

What are the symptoms of spinal stenosis?

There are several symptoms that could be present with spinal stenosis, as well as symptoms that mimic other conditions and more serious complications. When spinal stenosis occurs in the neck, there is often a tingling and numbness in the back that can even travel down into your legs and feet. It can also affect your arms and hands – in fact, many patients report feeling like their arms and legs are falling asleep.

Spinal stenosis in the back generally affects the legs and can make it painful to bend over and sit down.

What causes spinal stenosis?

The most common cause for spinal stenosis is the wear and tear of the bones in the spine. Over time, these bones become worn down and may attempt to regrow themselves and can often overgrow in this attempt. The overgrowth can be the cause for the narrowing of your spine. Other causes include tumors, spinal injuries, herniated discs, or torn ligaments around the spine.

How is spinal stenosis diagnosed?

A doctor will be able to diagnose spinal stenosis by performing a few simple tests, such as an x-ray. These tests are often used to filter out other conditions that stenosis may be mimicking. A doctor will also perform a physical exam of the spine and ask questions about your medical history. Anti-inflammatory medications may be used in combination with physical therapy in order to help relieve the symptoms that are brought on by spinal stenosis. Steroid injections can also help to relieve your symptoms. In rare and severe cases of spinal stenosis, surgery may be used to help correct the problem.

While spinal stenosis is generally not a life threatening condition, the effects of the issue can be felt for many years and can make it difficult to complete everyday activities. If you believe that you have spinal stenosis, it is important to see your doctor about your symptoms in order to rule out more serious conditions and start the healing process.