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Spinal stenosis

Overview of spinal stenosis

Spinal stenosis refers to narrowing of the spinal canal and spinal nerve passageways due to osteoarthritis and other degenerative changes in the spine. This narrowing can compress the spinal nerve roots causing pain, numbness, and muscle weakness. Treatment of spinal stenosis aims to reduce pain, improve motor and sensory function, manage other symptoms, and remove pressure from the spinal nerves.

Spinal stenosis develops slowly over many years. It can occur anywhere along the spine. Some people have few or no signs and symptoms of spinal stenosis at first. Spinal stenosis mainly affects adults older than 50.

As the condition worsens and compresses the spinal nerves, signs and symptoms can include pain in your neck or back, and pain, tingling, numbness, and weakness in your arms and legs. Symptoms vary depending on the location of stenosis along your spine.

Because spinal stenosis symptoms can mimic those of other spine problems, your doctor likely will rely on X-rays and other imaging tests to accurately diagnose your condition.