Spinal stenosis occurs when open spaces within the spine become narrowed,
causing pressure on the spinal cord and nerves of the spine. Spinal stenosis
usually occurs in the spinal canal, in the neck or lower back. Stenosis
of the spine is most common in patients over 50, although it can occur
in younger people as well.
Spinal stenosis can cause no symptoms, but depending on the location and
severity of the spinal pressure, it can cause pain, numbness, weakness,
and in extreme cases bowel and bladder problems.
What Causes Spinal Stenosis?
Spinal stenosis, or spinal canal stenosis, can naturally occur through
the aging process, as the spine becomes compressed through years of normal
wear. In other cases, spinal stenosis can be the result of an injury,
accident, or a related spine condition such as a herniated disc.
When patients under the age of 50 are diagnosed with spinal stenosis, it
is usually due to a genetic cause called congenital spinal stenosis, which
means they are born with a small spinal canal. This can put pressure on
areas of the spine and may require special spinal stenosis treatment.
Causes of stenosis are:
Bone spurs: Bone spurs form between the vertebrae in any patient as they age, and
they usually occur in people over 40.
Arthritis: Osteoarthritis is a common condition among people over 50. It can cause
disc degeneration, bone spurs, and an overgrowth of ligament that can
lead to spinal stenosis. Rheumatoid arthritis is a less common cause of
spinal stenosis, although the inflammation it causes can create pressure
(usually in the neck) that leads to stenosis.
Degenerative spondylolisthesis and degenerative scoliosis(curvature of the spine): Slippage of one vertebra over another is often
caused by spinal degeneration. Frequently, this is seen with lumbar spinal stenosis.
Herniated disc: Slipped or ruptured discs occur when the cushions in the spine that act
as shock absorbers get weaker. Slipped discs have multiple causes, including
age, obesity, and injury. When a disc ruptures, it can put pressure on
the spinal cord or nerves.
Injuries: Trauma or impact to the spine can cause spinal fractures or dislocations,
which can then cause damage to the spine canal. These injuries are commonly
the result of sports, car accidents, or falls.
Tumors: Tumors are abnormal growths of soft tissue which can occur in or on the
spine. The growths put pressure on the spinal cord and vertebrae, and
can lead to bone loss and displacement.
Symptoms can overlap from condition to condition. It’s therefore
important to be seen by a specialist who can provide a comprehensive diagnosis
and integrated treatment plan, which may include spinal stenosis surgery.
New York's Spinal Stenosis Specialists
Weill Cornell’s Center for Comprehensive Spine Care in New York provides
state-of-the-art spinal stenosis treatment, including minimally invasive
spinal stenosis surgery. Browse through our site to find more information
on stenosis of the spine. You can also contact us to schedule an appointment
with a spinal stenosis doctor in New York.
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