As we age, our bodies begin to feel the effects of years of wear and tear – as well as pure age-related degeneration. A perfect example is what happens if or when the spinal canal narrows. This puts pressure on the nerves that it is designed to protect. This narrowing of the spinal canal is what is known as spinal stenosis. The condition causes pain, numbness, and muscle weakness either in your neck (cervical stenosis) or lower back (lumbar stenosis). It can also cause difficulty when walking and maintaining your balance.
Not only that, but in severe cases, spinal stenosis can also impair your bladder and bowel control. If your spinal stenosis is in the lower back – the most common kind of stenosis – you may experience pain and cramping in one or both of your legs when you stand for long periods of time.
Causes of Spinal Stenosis
There are numerous causes of spinal stenosis, such as:
- Bone spurs, which are brought on by the wear-and-tear damage of osteoarthritis (also called simply “arthritis”)
- Herniated discs, which occur when the cushioning “shock absorbers” (discs) between your vertebrae dry out with age and crack (herniate) – thereby allowing some of the soft inner material to leak out and press against the spinal cord or nerves
- Tumors that form inside the spinal cord
- Dislocations or fractures caused by a car accident or other traumatic injury
What Are the Treatments for the Condition?
Fortunately, there’s a variety of treatment options for those diagnosed with spinal stenosis. These include both nonsurgical and surgical alternatives; treatment is based on the cause and severity of your condition, as well as your medical history.