Cause & Risk Factors
Two risk factors for spinal stenosis are the aging process and genetic disorders. Causes of the condition include:
- Arthritis —both osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis—can cause your spine to degenerate and may cause the production of bone spurs that can narrow your spinal passages.
- Paget’s disease, a condition that creates soft, weak bones that are prone to fractures.
- Spinal trauma, which includes car accidents or falls, can cause dislocations or fractures of one or more vertebrae that can displace bone and damage your spinal canal.
- Spinal tumors, which are abnormal growths that can form inside the spinal cord, within the membranes that cover the spinal cord, or in the space in-between the spinal cord and vertebrae.
Most people first notice symptoms of spinal stenosis after age 50. Depending on which nerves are affected, spinal stenosis can have a variety of symptoms:
- Leg pain or cramping: Compressed nerves in your lower (lumbar) spine can cause pain or cramping in your legs.
- Loss of bowel or bladder control: In cases of severe spinal stenosis, nerves to your bladder or bowel may be affected.
- Neck or shoulder pain: Compressed nerves in your neck can cause pain in your neck and/or shoulder—though spinal stenosis in your neck often causes no pain.
- Numbness, weakness, tingling: Spinal stenosis in your upper spine can cause. numbness, weakness or tingling in a leg, foot, arm or hand, which may, in turn, cause clumsiness or a lack of coordination.
Spinal stenosis is often difficult to diagnose because its symptoms can be caused by other conditions. Quite often, people who develop stenosis have no history of back problems or recent injury.
- An MRI or CT scan is generally used to determine if spinal stenosis is the cause of the symptoms being experienced.
- A myelogram, which is an x-ray taken after a dye is injected into the spine, can also be used to diagnose the condition.
Treatment options for spinal stenosis depend on the severity of the symptoms. Self-management techniques include getting adequate rest, exercising to build strength and endurance, and avoiding activities that cause adverse symptoms.
At PMIR, we offer treatment options for spinal stenosis that include: