Spinal Stenosis refers to a narrowing of the vertebral canal. Some people are born with this spinal stenosis but the majority of cases develop over time. Often, years of wear and tear cause bone spurs to build up on the facet joints where one vertebra meets another. Bone spurs can press on the spinal canal and pinch the nerve roots entering and exiting the spinal cord. A degenerative disc disease can narrow the canal, causing pressure on the spinal cord, nerve roots or both. Sometimes, bone spurs as well as degenerative disc disease combine to cause spinal stenosis.
Spinal stenosis can affect the entire spine but it most commonly occurs in the neck and lower back.
The pressure can cause pain in the spinal cord or nerve root that can be severe. Pressure can also cause difficulty standing or walking. Patients sometimes describe the sensation as having very “heavy” legs.
Treatments for spinal stenosis include:
- Nerve blocks
- Epidural steroid injections