Spinal narrowing causes and treatment

Spinal narrowing, which is also known as spinal stenosis, is a degenerative condition of the spine that can often lead to chronic neck pain, chronic back pain and other symptoms related to nerve compression. But how does it happen? What causes the spinal canal to narrow and why is this a problem? If you have been diagnosed with spinal stenosis, these are questions you undoubtedly have, and we hope the following can give you a better understanding of this condition.

Explaining spinal stenosis

The spinal column is designed to support the upper body while protecting the spinal cord and nerve roots as they travel out to the extremities. What this means is that there is a lot of nervous tissue that is tightly packed into a region that endures a high amount of stress. Over time, these factors can lead to the development of conditions that displace spinal anatomy and cause spinal narrowing, or spinal stenosis. These conditions include:

  • Degenerative disc disease. Over time the spinal discs can deteriorate, leading to loss of disc height, bulging discs and herniated discs that can all cause spinal narrowing.
  • Facet disease. The breakdown of the cartilage that protects the spinal facet joints can result in joint inflammation and bone spur formation, which can lead to spinal narrowing.
  • Spondylolisthesis. This condition occurs when a spinal segment becomes misaligned, causing one vertebral body to come to rest on the vertebra below it.
  • Other degenerative changes. Ligaments can harden, muscles can weaken and other changes can lead to spinal narrowing. In rare instances, the presence of a tumor can also cause spinal narrowing.

Treatment for spinal narrowing

Effective treatment of spinal narrowing depends on identifying the source of the problem and relieving the nerve compression in the spine. While conservative treatments are often attempted first, sometimes surgery is required to sufficiently relieve pain and other symptoms. If you are considering surgical intervention, contact Laser Spine Institute. Our procedures are a safer and effective alternative to traditional open spine surgery, offering our patients a shorter recovery time with less risk of complication.^

We can help you receive a no-cost MRI review* to determine if you are a potential candidate for one of our procedures.