Identifying the causes of spinal stenosis

Understanding the most common spinal stenosis causes is a key step in effectively treating this potentially painful condition. Spinal stenosis is a degenerative spine condition that describes the gradual narrowing of the spinal canal and other nerve passageways that primarily result from degenerative spine conditions. There can be many specific contributors to narrowing of the spinal canal, but the most common causes are a direct result of regular wear and tear on the spinal column that come with age.

Although no one can prevent the natural aging process, spinal stenosis symptoms can be treated if they cause symptoms. By learning more about this condition, you can work closely with your doctor to get the help you need for the healthy and active lifestyle you deserve.

Spinal stenosis explained

In a healthy spine, the spinal cord is protected by the spinal canal — a narrow passageway that extends through the neck and into the back. The spinal canal is formed by arches that extend off the back of each vertebrae. Additionally, nerve roots exit the spinal canal through small openings between the vertebrae, called foramina. Spinal stenosis develops when either the spinal canal or the foramina are constricted by displaced spinal anatomy.

What leads to spinal stenosis?

Spinal stenosis can be caused by a variety of degenerative conditions at any level of the spine. A few examples of the most common spinal stenosis causes include:

  • Degenerative disc disease
  • Bulging and herniated disc
  • Osteoarthritis of the spine
  • Spondylolisthesis
  • Bone spurs
  • Ligament calcification

While these conditions are most frequently associated with the natural aging process, there are other factors that can increase the likelihood of developing one or more of these conditions during the patient’s lifetime. Being obese, for example, increases strain on the spinal column, which can speed up spinal deterioration. Similarly, having poor posture and improper spinal alignment, participating in high-impact sports or having a line of work that requires frequent bending, twisting or lifting greatly contributes to advanced deterioration.

Treatment options

In the event that spinal stenosis develops and you are experiencing significant neck or back pain as a result, there are a number of treatment options available. Normally, treatment begins with a course of basic conservative therapies, like rest, medication and physical therapy. Should your pain persist through several weeks or months of this style of treatment, your doctor may refer you to a specialist for a surgical consultation.

If you are in this situation but have concerns about the risks and difficulties of traditional open spine procedures, reach out to Laser Spine Institute. Our outpatient minimally invasive spine surgery is a safer and effective alternative, offering less risk of complication and a shorter recovery time compared to traditional open neck or back procedures.^

Our dedicated team of Spine Care Consultants can help you receive your no-cost MRI review* to help you find out if you’re a candidate for one of our procedures.

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