• The spine consists of a column of stacked, small bones called vertebrae that are separated by spongy discs. Through the bones of the spine runs the spinal canal, which contains the spinal cord and nerve branches that run throughout the body.


    Stenosis means narrowing, therefore spinal stenosis is the narrowing of the spinal canal. The narrowing of the column can cause pressure to the spinal cord or nerves contained in the column.


    Spinal stenosis may be due to injury, congenital defect (present at birth) or spinal deterioration associated with aging. Stenosis can occur at any point along the spine but is most common in the lower, or lumbar, region.


    As the narrowing progresses, symptoms, such as pain and abnormal sensations (numbness), occur. In severe lumbar spinal stenosis, walking may be impaired; bowel and bladder function may be affected as those nerves are compressed.

    Nonsurgical Treatment

    Initial treatment of severe spinal stenosis may include injections of corticosteroids into the spinal canal (epidural injection). The purpose of this nonsurgical treatment is to relieve inflammation and to reduce pain.

    Noninvasive Treatments

    Other nonsurgical treatments that are noninvasive include physical therapy, use of orthopedic braces and over-the-counter and prescription anti-inflammatory medications. These treatments are used to slow progression and relieve discomfort and are not considered cures for spinal stenosis.

    Surgical Treatment

    Should it be determined that nonsurgical treatment modalities are not effective, then decompression surgery may be recommended in order to relieve the pressure to the spinal canal. Spinal fusion surgery is performed in cases where spinal stenosis is caused by unstable vertebrae.


    Spinal Stenosis Treatment

    Spinal Stenosis

    Lumbar Spinal Stenosis

    More Information:

    National Institutes of Health

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