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Spinal Stenosis


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Spinal stenosis is the narrowing of the spinal canal — the opening in the center of your spinal column through which the spinal cord travels. When the canal narrows, it pushes on the nerves that travel from the spinal cord to the arms and legs. This pressure on the nerves increases gradually, only causing a few signs or symptoms in the beginning stages of the condition.

Our spine specialists at Dignity Health understand what you are going through and will work diligently to provide relief for any chronic back and nerve pain you may be experiencing. Our team of neurosurgeons, neurologists, and nurse practitioners are experts in the field and are ready to provide the compassionate care you need.

To learn more about how we can relieve your pain from spinal stenosis, Find a Doctor online.

Causes of Spinal Stenosis

If you have degenerative disc disease or osteoarthritis, you are at a high risk for spinal stenosis. As you age, the discs that act as a cushion between each spinal vertebra begin to wear down (degenerate). This causes friction that slowly contributes to the degeneration of the spinal joints, which leads to spinal arthritis. As time passes, bone spurs may also begin to develop in and around the spinal column and may put pressure on the spinal nerves, eventually leading to spinal stenosis.

The following conditions can increase your risk of developing spinal stenosis:

  • degenerative disc disease
  • osteoarthritis
  • scoliosis
  • spinal injuries

You can decrease your risk of developing or worsening spinal stenosis symptoms when you: 

  • improve your posture
  • practice proper body mechanics
  • eat a nutritious diet daily
  • strengthen the core muscles that support your back

Symptoms of Spinal Stenosis

Because spinal stenosis develops slowly over time, you may not experience symptoms at first. However, as your spinal nerves become more compressed, you may observe an increase in signs and symptoms.

Spinal stenosis can occur at any position along the spine. Also, symptoms vary depending on the location. 

Common symptoms include:

  • neck pain
  • back pain
  • tingling, numbness, and weakness of the arms and legs

Diagnosis & Treatment of Spinal Stenosis at Dignity Health

Many spine problems have similar symptoms. X-rays or other imaging tests such as MRIs and CT scans are often essential for an accurate diagnosis.

At Dignity Health, our spinal specialists use several approaches to treat spinal stenosis, including:

  • managing your symptoms
  • surgically opening your spinal canal to relieve compression
  • protecting the health of your spine

Treatment may include:

  • oral corticosteroids  
  • NSAIDs (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications) such as ibuprofen
  • physical therapy
  • epidural spinal injection
  • surgery 

At Dignity Health, we know that living with chronic back and nerve pain can be frustrating. Our neurological teams are dedicated to helping you find relief for spinal stenosis pain. Our hospitals offer the finest neurological and neurosurgical care along with a culture of compassion and humankindness. 

Learn More

For more information, please view our Spine Surgery page, or call us to Find a Doctor.