ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Stenosis of the Spine--The Basics of Spinal Stenosis

Updated on February 12, 2010

Stenosis of the spine is a condition that results from the narrowing of the spine. Oftentimes, spinal stenosis can be a debilitating condition that causes pain, decreased quality of life, weakness, and increased medical costs.  If you are new to spinal stenosis, or have been recently diagnosed, continue reading to learn the anatomy of your spine, how spinal stenosis occurs, as well as the  symptoms, diagnoses, and available treatments.

Understanding the Spine and Spinal Stenosis

There are 33 vertebrae that make up the human spine. The spinal canal is where the spine runs through the vertebrae, and the lower part of the spine has the nerves that supply feeling and strength to the lower body. The spine is divided into three basic sections:

  • Cervical--First 6 vertebrae in the neck region
  • Thoracic--Middle 12 vertebrae in the upper and mid-back region
  • Lumbar-- Last 5 vertebrae in the lower back region.


In between the vertebrae are the spinal facet joints and intervertebral discs made of cartilage. These discs allows slight movement of the spine and hold the vertebrae together.

Stenosis of the spine begins when the discs start to wear down and loses fluid. The degeneration of the discs creates an abnormal motion of the spine; the spine tries to compensate by generating bone spurs and thickened ligaments. These changes lead to the narrowing of the spinal canal, which is in fact spinal stenosis.

Spinal canal stenosis can affect any part of the spine, but is the common in the cervical and lumbar regions.

This is a vertebra with a normal canal. Spinal stenosis is the narrowing of this canal.
This is a vertebra with a normal canal. Spinal stenosis is the narrowing of this canal.

Stenosis of the Spine Causes

There are several possible causes of spinal canal stenosis. Stenosis of the spine can begin as early as birth, especially if an individual is genetically pre-disposed to the condition.

Other causes include poor body mechanics, postures, obesity, smoking, poor diet, and physical trama. Some diseases may also lead to spinal stenosis, such as osteoporosis, osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, scolosis and lordosis

Usually, spinal stenosis occurs with age as the vertebrae gradually softens.

Symptoms of Spinal Stenosis

Spine stenosis does not always cause noticeable symptoms.  As a matter of fact, some people may have severe spinal stenosis on x-ray imaging, but fail to have symptoms.
 
If symptoms are present, they may include nerve compression which leads to pain and numbness in the back and/or legs, or leg cramping.  Usually the pain or cramping is relieved with bending or sitting.  Weakness of the legs may also occur.  In rare instances, spinal stenosis may also cause bowel and bladder issues.

Symptoms tend to worsen with prolonged standing or walking. Symptoms in severity, and are known to come and go.

If spinal stenosis affects the neck or cervical area, headaches, pain, and weakness of the arms and hands and upper extremities may occur. 

Diagnoses and Treatments for Stenosis of the Spine

In order to diagnose spinal stenosis, a physician takes a patient's medical history and perform a physical exam.  He may then order an x-ray to reveal any evidence of narrowed discs or thickening of the joint.  An MRI or CAT scan may also be used for improved detailed evaluation.

When the physician determines that an individual has lumbar spinal stenosis, he will usually try nonsurgical treatments first.  These treatments may include:

  • Oral or injected anti-inflammatory medications to reduce swelling
  • Analgesic medications to reduce pain
  • Non-prescription medications including aspirin, ibuprofen, and naproxen
  • Spinal injections of epidural/cortisone
  • Physical therapy and exercise to increase strength, endurance, and flexibility


Prevention of Lumbar Spine Stenosis

If stenosis of the spine is a result of genetic predisposition, there may be little you can do to avoid it. However, there are a few steps anyone can take to reduce the chances of suffering from spinal stenois:

  • Maintain good posture
  • Bend the knees while lifting
  • Regularly stretch the back to remain flexibility
  • Sleep on a firm mattress
  • Remain physically active, especially with age.


Comments about spinal stenosis

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • profile image

      Marilyn francis 

      10 months ago

      When is surgery reqùìred

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://hubpages.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)