Spinal narrowing, or spinal stenosis, can result from injury, from an inherited condition, or from age-related degeneration of components of the spinal anatomy. A number of anatomical abnormalities can reduce the size of the spinal canal or of the openings that allow nerve roots to exit the spinal cord (known as foramina). These conditions include osteoarthritis, degenerative disc disease, and others. Spinal stenosis typically does not exhibit symptoms unless the restricted space leads to irritation or compression of a nerve root or the spinal cord itself.
Who is at Risk for Spinal Narrowing?
Although traumatic injury can produce spinal stenosis in people of any age, most spinal narrowing can be found in people who are middle-aged or older. Over the years, the spinal anatomy is subjected to a wide range of stress-inducing movement, including bending, twisting, and turning. The vertebrae, intervertebral discs, ligaments, muscles, and joints of the spine begin to wear down, and abnormalities such as bone spurs, herniated discs, and ossified ligaments are fairly common. Risk factors for developing spinal stenosis include:
- Age – people 50 or older are more likely to develop stenosis of the spine.
- Genetics – inherited traits can make certain people more vulnerable to stenosis.
- Smoking – ingredients in cigarettes can constrict blood vessels and other passages in the body.
- Injury history – a spinal injury suffered early in life can affect spinal stability later on.
- Obesity – excess body weight places more stress on the spine, which can lead to instability.
Treatment for Spinal Narrowing
Symptoms associated with spinal stenosis typically can be managed using non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, epidural steroidal injections, exercise, stretching, and other conservative treatments. However, if chronic neck or back pain persists despite several weeks of conservative treatment, contact Laser Spine Institute to learn about the many advantages of a minimally invasive, outpatient procedure performed with endoscopic technology. Our orthopedic specialists will answer all your questions and conduct a complimentary review of an MRI or CT scan.