Spinal Stenosis (Narrowing of the Spine)
Spinal stenosis is a medical term derived from the ancient Greek word stenosis, meaning a narrowing of a passage in the body. Spinal stenosis is a bone disease of the spinal column that often leads to chronic back or neck pain. The spinal column contains components critical to the stable functioning of the back and neck including the spinal cord, nerve roots, and vertebrae. In simple terms, spinal stenosis refers to the compression of the nerve roots or spinal cord due to the narrowing or impingement of the spinal canal. Pain from spinal stenosis compression often leads to chronic neck and back pain and can have a huge impact on the quality of life for patients who suffer from this condition.
Spinal stenosis can occur in the cervical, lumbar or thoracic region of the spine, and often results in chronic back and neck pain.
• Cervical Spinal Stenosis: Cervical or neck spinal stenosis occurs in the upper region of the spine, leading to a wide range of painful and dangerous symptoms for those who suffer from this condition.
• Lumbar Spinal Stenosis: Lumbar spinal stenosis is caused by the compression of nerve roots in the lower back and often manifests as tingling, numbness or pain that radiates from the lower back and down to the buttocks or legs.
• Thoracic Spinal Stenosis: Thoracic spinal stenosis occurs in the middle portion of the spine caused by a narrowing of the spinal canal in the thoracic region of the back, often limiting a patient’s ability to move laterally or rotate.
Patients who suffer from spinal stenosis can be separated into those who inherit the condition, and those who have acquired it over time. Patients who have inherited spinal stenosis are often born with a spinal canal that is narrower than the average person’s, and often experience the negative effects of the condition earlier in life.
Most patients seeking treatment for spinal stenosis suffer from the acquired version of the condition, as the narrowing of the spinal canal is a natural part of the aging process. Degeneration of the cartilage that provides a cushion for spinal joints exposes bone to friction, and may result in bone spurs. Degeneration also can lead to bulging or herniated discs, which put pressure on the spinal nerves.
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