What is Spinal Stenosis?
In medical terms, stenosis refers to the abnormal narrowing of a body channel. When this process occurs in the spinal region, it is called Spinal Stenosis – a narrowing of the bone channel occupied by the spinal nerves or the spinal cord. This narrowing can put pressure on nerves that travel through the spine, leading to symptoms which may include pain, numbness, tingling sensations and muscle weakness. The condition is most often related to osteoarthritis which occurs when the cartilage or cushion between joints breaks down, leading to wear-and-tear. Other conditions such as herniated disks, tumors, bone spurs, spinal injuries and thickened ligaments can also contribute to the development of spinal stenosis.
There are two primary types of spinal stenosis. These include:
Lumbar stenosis is the most common form of spinal stenosis. This type of stenosis occurs in the lower back area and can impact the nerves located there. These nerves can deliver pain and other symptoms from the lower back through the length of the nerve pathway, reaching down the buttocks and legs and sometimes into the feet.
Cervical Spinal Stenosis
Cervical spinal stenosis is less common and occurs in the neck area of the spine. Because of its location, symptoms can include pain, numbness, tingling, burning, and weakness in the neck, arms, hands, and sometimes in the head.
Thoracic stenosis can also occur but is much less common, as this area of the upper – middle portion of the spine is much less prone to movement and less likely to experience wear-and-tear.
Did You Know?
Science Care body donors have contributed to research and studies involving the development of medical devices designed to help improve outcomes for patients with spinal stenosis. This is just one of many ways that body donors are contributing to the advancement of medicine. If you would like to register for body donation through Science Care, visit our registration page located here.
If you are experiencing symptoms you think may be related to spinal stenosis or any other condition, see your health care provider.
For more information regarding spinal stenosis, visit Mayoclinic.org.