Spinal stenosis causes and risk factors

Spinal stenosis causes some patients to experience an array of uncomfortable symptoms, such as pain, muscle weakness, tingling and/or numbness. This condition involves the narrowing of the spinal canal and can lead to compression of the spinal cord or any of the nerves that branch from it. Spinal stenosis is fairly common, with more than 200,000 new cases in the United States each year. One of the primary causes of spinal stenosis is nothing more than the natural aging process. Years of supporting body weight and contributing to movement can eventually take their toll on the anatomical components of the spine, making those who have reached or exceeded middle age susceptible to a number of degenerative spinal conditions. Degenerative disc disease, osteoarthritis, osteophytes and ligament calcification are all possible causes of spinal stenosis.

Risk factors

While age is the leading contributor to the development of spinal stenosis, the condition can also have many other causes. Spinal stenosis can occur as the result of a congenital birth defect or because of the presence of a spinal tumor, for instance. A number of risk factors can also contribute to the development of spinal stenosis in younger individuals, including:

  • Obesity
  • Participation in high-impact sports
  • Tobacco use
  • Alcohol abuse
  • Sedentary lifestyle

Ignoring these risk factors at a younger age might contribute to the development of spinal stenosis later in life.

Treating the condition

Those who experience the discomfort spinal stenosis sometimes causes can typically find relief from a regimen of conservative, nonsurgical treatments. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), analgesics, physical therapy, transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation and hot/cold therapy, among others, are all proven treatments for nerve compression that is caused by spinal stenosis. However, these treatments may not provide adequate relief for every patient, and if you try these methods for at least a couple weeks or months with no avail, you may need to consider a surgical option.

Laser Spine Institute offers treatments for those who do not benefit from the use of conservative treatments but want to avoid the highly invasive nature of traditional open spine surgery. Our minimally invasive outpatient procedures have helped tens of thousands of patients find relief from chronic neck or back pain, and they provide many advantages over traditional open spine surgery, such as smaller incisions, lower complication and infection rates and faster recovery periods. Contact us to learn more and to receive a review of your most recent CT scan or MRI.

Browse Related Resources