Spinal stenosis is caused by a narrowing of the spinal canal. The canal serves as the protective tunnel for all nerve roots and the spinal cord, connecting nerves throughout the body. Spinal stenosis is a common cause of arm and/or leg pain.
Causes of spinal stenosis are as follows:
- Aging and normal wear-and-tear lead to narrowing of the spinal canal.
- Arthritis is the most common cause of spinal stenosis. Bone, disc, or cysts from the joints can narrow the canal causing compression of the spinal cord or nerves.
- Spinal stenosis may be acquired or inherited. Some cases are caused by age-related problems while some people are just born with smaller spinal canal that could possibly become narrower as they age.
- Obesity, bad posture, and other skeletal diseases can also worsen spinal stenosis.
Spinal stenosis symptoms can be progressive and may worsen over time. It is also possible for these symptoms to spread into other regions of the body. Patients may experience the following symptoms:
- Neck pain
- Lower back pain
- Shoulder pain
- Burning pain in buttocks, thighs and legs
- Weakness in the arms or legs
- Cramping or numbness in buttocks or legs
- Difficulty walking, bending over, or even standing
Treatment of spinal stenosis aims to prevent further narrowing or the spine. In addition, correctional exercises are recommended to strengthen and stabilize the spine. Conservative treatment options should be explored. However, if your diagnosis is severe or not responding to conservative treatments, minimally invasive surgery may be recommended. The goal of the surgery is to decompress the spinal cord or nerves, which oftentimes can be performed minimally invasively.