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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 compresses the nerves that travel from the spinal cord to the arms and legs. This compression develops gradually, causing few signs or symptoms in the beginning stages of the condition.
Dignity Health offers a vast array of neurology and neurosurgery services. Our team of neurosurgeons, neurologists, and nurse practitioners are experts in the field ready to provide compassionate care for patients experiencing neurological conditions. To learn more about how we can relieve your pain from spinal stenosis, Find a Doctor online.
Causes of Spinal Stenosis
Most cases of spinal stenosis are caused by degenerative disc disease or osteoarthritis. As you age, the discs between each vertebrae that cushion your spine begin to wear down (degenerate), which causes friction between the vertebrae. This friction slowly causes the spinal joints to degenerate (spinal arthritis). Bone spurs may also begin to develop in and around the spinal column, increasing compression on the spinal nerves. Spinal conditions, such as scoliosis, and spinal injuries increase your risk of developing spinal stenosis.
Focusing on improved posture, proper body mechanics, and a nutritious diet, and strengthening the core muscles that support your back can help decrease your risk of developing or worsening spinal stenosis symptoms.
Symptoms of Spinal Stenosis
Because spinal stenosis develops slowly over time, many people don’t experience symptoms at first. But, as spinal nerves become more compressed, most patients see an increase in signs and symptoms. Spinal stenosis can occur at any place along the spine. 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 with 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.
There are several approaches to treating spinal stenosis, including symptom management, surgery to open the spinal canal to relieve compression, and protecting the health of your spine. Treatment may include:
- Corticosteroid medicines taken by mouth
- NSAIDs (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications) such as ibuprofen
- Physical therapy
- Epidural spinal injection
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 your spinal stenosis pain. Our hospitals offer the finest neurological and neurosurgical care with humankindness.