Spinal stenosis causes — from birth defects to simply getting older

Spinal stenosis is narrowing of nerve pathways in the spine, including the spinal canal and nerve root exits. There are many causes of stenosis, including congenital birth defect and injury, with the natural aging process being a very common contributor. This condition most commonly occurs in the cervical (upper) or lumbar (lower) spine, where the narrowing can go unnoticed for years.

Symptoms typically develop in relation to nerve compression, also called a pinched nerve, related to the narrowing. Learning more about the causes of spinal stenosis and related symptoms can help you become a more informed patient and make treatment decisions with the best chance of returning you to a healthy, active lifestyle.

The relationship between aging and spinal stenosis

Spinal stenosis can occur in people of all ages, but it occurs most frequently in people who are older than 50. Like the rest of the body, parts of the spine become more vulnerable to wearing out with age. The moving parts — the joints, tendons and discs — can develop age-related conditions like spinal arthritis and degenerative disc disease that cause displacement of spinal anatomy. These conditions lead to issues like collapsed discs or bone spurs that can constrict nerve pathways and put pressure on the nerves.

Other causes of spinal stenosis

There are many causes of spinal stenosis that affect people of all ages. For example, some people are born with a congenital birth defect that leads to the formation of a smaller spinal canal. Automobile accidents and high-impact sports injuries can also cause stenosis by leading to problems like herniated and bulging discs. Other spinal stenosis causes include:

  • Spinal tumors
  • Calcified ligaments
  • Excess fluoride in the spine
  • Paget’s disease, which can cause enlargement of spinal bones

Treatment options

Most cases of spinal stenosis are usually first treated with a course of doctor-prescribed conservative treatment. This can include pain medication, physical therapy, massage, rest, low-impact exercise and lifestyle changes like eating a nutritious diet or quitting smoking. Surgery may be considered if conservative options are exhausted without an improvement in symptoms.

At Laser Spine Institute, our experienced surgeons perform minimally invasive spine surgeries that are designed to address spinal stenosis with significantly shorter recovery times^ compared to traditional open spine surgical procedures.

Contact us today for a no-cost MRI review* to find out if you’re a candidate for our procedures.

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