Understanding Spinal Stenosis Pathophysiology

Spinal stenosis pathophysiology refers to the origin and nature of narrowing (stenosis) within the spinal canal. There are two basic ways for spinal stenosis to develop. The most common is for age-related deterioration to give rise to anatomical abnormalities that restrict the space available in the spinal canal. The other way spinal stenosis occurs is through traumatic injury, such as a jarring hit in a car crash. Occasionally, an individual might actually have an asymptomatic case of spinal stenosis, which is then revealed when symptoms arise in the aftermath of a traumatic injury.

Conditions that produce spinal stenosis

The pathophysiology of spinal stenosis often can be traced to physical habits that were formed early in life. Practicing poor posture over the course of several years while seated or standing has a degenerative effect, as does playing high-impact sports such as football, field hockey or rugby. Combine these habits and physical activities with the natural effect of that aging has on the spinal anatomy, and there is a very real possibility that by the time an individual has reached middle age, the space within the spinal canal has become restricted.

The areas of the spine that are most susceptible to age-related spinal stenosis are the lumbar (lower back) region and the cervical (neck) region. These two areas support the weight of the upper body and the head, respectively, and facilitate a wide range of stress-inducing motion. The pathophysiology of spinal stenosis often takes in to account factors such as:

  • Body weight
  • Age
  • Family medical history
  • Past injury history
  • Current occupation and pastimes

Treating spinal stenosis

One reason spinal stenosis pathophysiology is important to understand is that it can help determine the course of treatment required to manage the symptoms of the condition. Most patients can be treated conservatively with pain medication and other non-surgical methods. If chronic symptoms persist after several weeks or months of non-surgical treatment, however, surgery might become an option. If surgery is recommended, contact Laser Spine Institute to learn how our minimally invasive, outpatient procedures might be able to help, and to find out if you are a candidate for our procedures.

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