These Facts About Spinal Stenosis May Surprise You

When the spinal canal becomes narrowed to the point where it causes compression or restriction of the spinal cord and nerve roots, spinal stenosis develops. Spinal stenosis can occur congenitally, or an individual can be born with a narrow spinal canal. More commonly, however, spinal stenosis is a result of the progressive deterioration of the spine. This is the type of abrasion that precipitates the development of osteoarthritis or the wearing down of the protective cartilage between the bones. The most common regions in the spine for spinal stenosis to happen to is the lumbar spine or the lower back and the cervical spine or neck. The symptoms of spinal stenosis are based on the spinal cord region of which is being pinched. Pain in the lower back and in the legs after walking is characteristic of lumbar spinal stenosis, while odd arm sensations and prominent pain in the neck are characteristic of cervical spinal stenosis. Other symptoms like general weakness, numbness, incontinence, leg cramping, and leg paralysis can also indicate spinal stenosis. Some patients that have been diagnosed via medical imaging tests exhibit no symptoms of the condition. This condition is usually diagnosed using a physical examination and medical history. Medical imaging tests can be utilized to determine the severity and potential causes of the disease. Conditions that have an association with spinal stenosis include degenerative spondylolisthesis or the slipping of one vertebra over the next and degenerative scoliosis or abnormal curvature of the spine.

More Information

Up to 95 percent of people exhibit degenerative changes in the spine by the time they have reached the age of 50. This condition equally affects women and men and happens most often in adults over the age of 60 years. The symptoms of congenital spinal stenosis typically manifest at some point from age 30 to 50 and happen more prominently in men. The reason that degenerative spinal changes happen to individuals of older ages is that the spinal disks start off with high water content at a young age and they dry out over time. This results in the loss of height or even cause the collapse of the disks. When one or both of those things happen, the openings of which the nerves use to exit the spinal canal become increasingly narrowed. In addition, the body can respond to this increased pressure by growing more bone called spurs to help with supporting the vertebrae. Spurs cause even further narrowing of the spinal canal and the holes of which the nerves pass through. When the narrowing becomes severe enough to irritate the spinal nerves, the symptoms of spinal stenosis will begin to manifest.

Questions And Answers

Here are the answers to some of the common questions that are asked regarding spinal stenosis.

Q: Can spinal stenosis be deadly?

A: In rare cases where spinal stenosis has been caused by severe injuries there is a chance that it can be deadly due to nerve death that occurs from excessive pressure on the spinal cord.

Q: Can spinal stenosis be cured?

A: There is no way to cure spinal stenosis, however treatment of symptoms and or surgery to alleviate the spinal cord compression can help individuals live normally with the condition.

Q: What is the recovery like for spinal stenosis surgery?

A: Immediately after the surgery patients are encouraged to get out of bed, and when directions are followed, the surgery typically produces good results within two weeks. The maximum level of improvement will be reached by two to three months following the surgery.

Q: Can spinal stenosis cause a person to become paralyzed?

A: Spinal stenosis of the lower back very rarely results in an individual becoming paralyzed. In terms of cervical spinal stenosis, paralysis can happen especially if a neck injury occurs overlapping the presence of spinal stenosis.

Q: What will happen if spinal stenosis is left untreated?

A: When spinal stenosis is not treated but presents with symptoms, any symptoms it is causing will become progressively worse. The distance that an individual is able to walk and the duration of how long they can stand will become reduced over time. Severe untreated cases usually involve dysfunction of the bladder and or bowel.

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