The spinal cord has bones that create channels for nerve roots and when the channels become narrow, the person is said to be suffering from spinal stenosis. The narrowing puts pressure on the nerves which can lead to feelings of discomfort. It mainly occurs in the neck where it is known as cervical stenosis or lower back where it is known as lumbar stenosis. The most common stenosis of the spine is lumbar stenosis.
Spinal stenosis causes and symptoms
Spinal stenosis causes and risk factors
Most instances of spinal stenosis happen when something causes the channel openings in the spinal cord to become narrow. Age is a major risk factor even though younger people have also been affected as a result of degenerative changes like scoliosis, trauma, and other genetic diseases.
Causes of spinal stenosis include:
- Herniated disks: It occurs when the shock absorbers between your disks dry out.
- Bone overgrowth: the wear and tear of bones as a result of osteoarthritis can lead to the growth of bone spurs which can lead to the narrowing of the channels. Degenerative spinal stenosis caused by bone overgrowth is most common in older people
- Tumors: the presence of abnormal growths in the spinal cord can also lead to spinal stenosis.
- Thickened ligaments: the spinal cord bones are held together using ligaments. When these ligaments become hardened they can protrude into the spinal canal.
- Spinal injuries: Spinal fractures as a result of an accident such as auto injuries can affect the spinal cord bones. Any form of swelling as a result of the accident can also put pressure on the nerves leading to stenosis of the spine.
Symptoms of spinal stenosis
Many people who have spinal stenosis show no signs of symptoms. In the instances where one experiences symptoms, they are gradual and worsen over time. The symptoms include:
- Numbness in the legs, arms, and foot
- Difficulties walking, maintaining balance, and holding things
- Pain and stiffness in the spine or neck
- Urinary incontinence in severe cases
Diagnosis and treatment
To diagnose spinal stenosis, the doctor will ask you for more details about your symptoms besides conducting a physical examination. The doctor might also send you to get imaging tests such as X-ray, Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) or computerized tomography (CT) scans done. The scans will be able to provide more details about any changes in the spine. At NexGen Medical Centers, you can receive regenerative therapy that can help in the management of spinal stenosis. NexGen specializes in regenerative medicine in Atlanta.