Spine Conditions

What is spinal stenosis?

Spinal stenosis occurs when the spinal canal – the cavity down your spinal column that contains your spinal cord – becomes too narrow. If the spinal canal narrows, it can impact the nerves and blood vessels that pass through the spine. Spinal stenosis often occurs as we become older and can be considered a degenerative condition.

The most common type of spinal stenosis affects the lower back and is known as lumbar stenosis. Spinal stenosis can also occur in the neck – called cervical stenosis. Spinal Stenosis | Dr Raj Reddy | Neurosurgeon | Sydney, Australia

A neurosurgeon can diagnose spinal stenosis with an MRI, a CT scan and x-ray.

What are symptoms of spinal stenosis?

Symptoms of spinal stenosis include:

  • pain in your lower back
  • pain, numbness or tingling in your legs and buttocks
  • stiffness or tight muscles in your thigh area
  • weakness in your legs

How is spinal stenosis treated?

A neurosurgeon may advise treating spinal stenosis with physical therapy to strengthen the back. For people who are overweight, losing weight can relieve pressure on the spine.

In severe cases of spinal stenosis, a neurosurgeon may advise a surgical procedure known as an laminectomyi or a lateral mass fixation or fusion.


Sources

Weinstein JN, Tosteson TD, Lurie JD, Tosteson A, Blood E, Herkowitz H, et al. Surgical versus non-operative treatment for lumbar spinal stenosis four-year results of the Spine Patient Outcomes Research Trial (SPORT). Spine 2010;35(14):1329.

  1. Whitman JM, Flynn TW, Childs JD, Wainner RS, Gill HE, Ryder MG, et al. A comparison between two physical therapy treatment programs for patients with lumbar spinal stenosis: a randomized clinical trial. Spine 2006;31(22):2541-9.
  2. Levin K. Lumbar spinal stenosis: Treatment and prognosis. UpToDate® Updated Aug1 2012.
  3. Djurasovic M, Glassman SD, Carreon LY, Dimar JR. Contemporary management of symptomatic lumbar spinal stenosis. Orthopedic Clinics 2010;41(2):183-91.

Image by Injury Map under a Creative Commons license.