Spinal stenosis is a medical condition in which the spinal canal narrows and compresses the spinal cord and nerves. This is usually due to the common occurrence of spinal degeneration that occurs with aging. It can also sometimes be caused by spinal disc herniation, osteoporosis or a tumor. In the cervical (neck) and lumbar (low back) region it can be a congenital condition to varying degrees.
Spinal stenosis may affect the cervical, thoracic or lumbar spine. In some cases, it may be present in all three places in the same patient. Lumbar spinal stenosis results in low back pain as well as pain or abnormal sensations in the legs, thighs, feet or buttocks, or loss of bladder and bowel control.
Symptoms of Spinal Stenosis
The first symptoms of stenosis are bouts of low back or neck pain. After a few months or years, this may progress to pain that is described as claudicant pain or claudication. This is a sensation of not getting enough blood to the arms or legs. It occurs more frequently in the legs.
Illustration of the anatomy of the lumbar region of the spine.
Illustration of a healthy vertebral disc.
Illustration of the difference in the spinal canal and facet joints of a normal vertebral disc (left) and a vertebral disc with spinal stenosis (right).