Spinal stenosis

Spinal stenosis


Spinal stenosis is a painful condition most likely encountered by older adults 50 and older. In spinal stenosis, the spine, which comprises a series of joined bones, also known as the vertebrae, starts to narrow. 

There are two types of spinal stenosis. However, the kind of spinal stenosis an individual has varies depending on his spine condition.

  1. Cervical stenosis is a kind of illness that occurs when the spinal area surrounding an individual’s neck becomes narrow.
  2. Lumbar stenosis is when the lower back area of an individual’s spine becomes narrow. Lumbar stenosis is the most common condition. 

What are the signs of spinal stenosis?

Spinal stenosis is most likely to affect the lower back and the area surrounding an individual’s neck. The symptoms of spinal stenosis are mainly numbness, tingling, stiffness, and back pain. Apart from this, individuals can also experience symptoms like:

  • Individuals with spinal stenosis might experience foot drop, a painful condition that makes an individual “slap” their foot on the ground.
  • Individuals are likely to experience shooting pain down their leg, which then causes lower back pain or aches in the buttocks. This condition is also referred to as sciatica. 
  • Individuals with spinal stenosis experience discomfort while walking and standing.
  • Patients can encounter radicular pain that shoots from the individual’s spine to the arm and legs. 
  • In the most extreme cases, spinal stenosis can show a loss of bladder or bowel as it weakens the nerves in the bladder. 
  • Symptoms like myelopathy and radicular pain can be visible, where the individual can experience numbness, tingling, and weakness in their arms and legs. Spinal stenosis can affect other body parts like the bladder and bowel. 
  • The cauda equina syndrome is a sector of the nerves at the bottom of the individual’s spinal cord. Suppose this part starts to compress because of the spinal stenosis. In that case, an individual is most likely to experience loss of feeling in their pelvic area or have issues related to incontinence. The cauda equina syndrome is a clinical emergency that can cause permanent damage to the nerves. 

What are the likely causes of spinal stenosis?

The likely causes of spinal stenosis are as follows:

  • Wear and tear damage from arthritis can lead to extra bone growing on the spine. These are known as bone spurs. The bone spurs can push into the spinal canal.
  • A herniated disk is a condition where the disk that acts like a shock absorber and cushions between the spinal bones is damaged. If any part of the disk’s soft inner material leaks, it can press on the spinal cord or nerves.
  • Rarely can tumors form inside the spinal canal of an individual
  • When the strong cords that aid in holding the bones of the individual spine together becomes thick and stiff over time. The thick ligament can push into the spinal canal. 
  • Any spinal damage because of a car accident or trauma can lead to spinal bones breaking or moving out of place. It can also cause spinal stenosis. 

How to diagnose spinal stenosis?

After examining the condition of the patient, the healthcare advisor will advise the following tests to diagnose this disease:

  • The healthcare advisor can suggest the patient have an X-ray showing how the shape of their vertebrae has changed.
  • The consultant will view the past health records of the patient and any possible risk factors.
  • A CT scan, computerized tomography, uses X-rays to make a three-dimensional image of the patient’s spine. With the aid of the CT scan, the consultant can easily view the damaged tissues related to an individual’s bones. It can be considered with a dye inserted into the patient’s body during a CT scan.
  • MRI also referred to as a magnetic resonance image, uses radio waves to create a three-dimensional picture of the patient’s spine. With the help of the MRI, the consultant can easily view the growth, tumors, and any damage to the discs and ligaments. 


What is the possible treatment of spinal stenosis?

The consultant can advise the following treatments:


  • Typical pain remedies like acetaminophen (Tylenol), aspirin, ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin), and naproxen can offer short-term relief. These medications are available in low doses without the doctor’s prescription.
  • The intake of tricyclic antidepressants, like amitriptyline, can aid in easing chronic pain. 
  • For short-term pain relief, the healthcare advisor may prescribe medicine with codeine, like oxycodone (Roxicodone, oxycontin) and hydrocodone (Vicodin, Norco). These medicines can have side effects and can be addictive.
  • Controlling the seizure medication can aid in reducing the pain from damaged nerves. 
  • To control the muscle spasm, the consultant can advise some muscle relaxants.


In the most severe cases, the difficulty an individual encounters following their daily activities like walking or has issues with their bladder and bowels. In such conditions, the healthcare advisor will recommend the following types of surgeries:

  • Laminoplasty: In this type of surgery, the consultant will put metal hardware in the patient’s neck vertebrae to make a bridge in the open sector of the individual’s spine.
  • Laminectomy: In this process, the back part of the affected vertebrae is removed.
  • Laminotomy: In this process, the healthcare advisor will excrete a part of the patient’s vertebrae to relieve pressure.
  • Decompression procedure: In this process, the healthcare advisor will use a needle-like tool to excrete part of the thickened ligaments in the patient’s spinal column. Patients with lumber spinal stenosis have also been advised of this procedure.

Home remedies:

  • Applying heat or cold pads for loosening up the tight muscles.
  • With the help of a moderate workout or an everyday walk, the stiffness of the muscle might get better. It is advised to discuss a new workout plan with the consultant. 
  • Losing weight can reduce pressure on the individual’s nerves, which may be caused by extra pounds. 


  • https://www.webmd.com/back-pain/guide/spinal-stenosisretrieved on 30 September 22
  • https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/17499-spinal-stenosis retrieved on 30 September 22

https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/spinal-stenosis/symptoms-causes/syc-20352961#:~:text=Spinal%20stenosis%20happens%20when%20the,spinal%20stenosis%20have%20no%20symptoms. Retrieved on 30 September 22

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