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Spinal stenosis

Diagnosis of spinal stenosis

Your spinal cord travels through an opening called a canal in the center of your bony spinal column. Spinal stenosis is narrowing of the spinal canal and the spinal nerve passageways. When these openings narrow, it can press the nerves that branch from the spinal cord to the rest of your body.

If you are older than 50 and you are exhibiting any of the symptoms listed above, your doctor may suspect spinal stenosis.

Diagnosing spinal stenosis may include:

  • Physical exam, including your ability to perform certain physical tasks like touching your toes
  • Imaging studies, including a spinal X-ray and MRI (magnetic resonance imaging)

Other spinal conditions can cause symptoms similar to those of spinal stenosis. For example, a herniated spinal disc can cause pain and muscle weakness in the arms or legs. Your doctor will want to rule out these other possible causes of your symptoms.