Home > Health A – Z > Spinal Stenosis

Spinal Stenosis

The narrowing of the spinal canal (through which the spinal cord runs), often by the overgrowth of bone caused by osteoarthritis of the spine.

PubMed Health Glossary
(Source: NIH - National Institute of Arthritis and Muskuloskeletal and Skin Diseases)

About Spinal Stenosis

The spine, a row of 26 bones in your back, allows you to stand up straight and bend over. The spine also protects your spinal cord from being hurt. In people with spinal stenosis, the spine is narrowed in one or more of three parts:

  • The space at the center of the spine
  • The canals where nerves branch out from the spine
  • The space between vertebrae (the bones of the spine).

This narrowing puts pressure on the spinal cord and nerves and can cause pain.

Who gets spinal stenosis?

Spinal stenosis is most common in men and women over 50 years old. Younger people who were born with a narrow spinal canal or who hurt their spines may also get spinal stenosis. NIH - National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases

What works? Research summarized

Evidence reviews

Calcitonin treatment in lumbar spinal stenosis: a meta-analysis

Bibliographic details: Podichetty VK, Varley ES, Lieberman I.  Calcitonin treatment in lumbar spinal stenosis: a meta-analysis. Spine 2011; 36(5): E357-E36421325931

Therapeutic exercise and manual therapy for persons with lumbar spinal stenosis

Bibliographic details: Iversen MD, Choudhary VR, Patel SC.  Therapeutic exercise and manual therapy for persons with lumbar spinal stenosis. International Journal of Clinical Rheumatology 2010; 5(4): 425-437

Non‐surgical treatment for spinal stenosis with leg pain

We reviewed the evidence on the effectiveness of non‐surgical treatments for people with leg pain caused by pressure on the nerves in the spine.

See all (104)

Summaries for consumers

Non‐surgical treatment for spinal stenosis with leg pain

We reviewed the evidence on the effectiveness of non‐surgical treatments for people with leg pain caused by pressure on the nerves in the spine.

Can exercise give better results after spinal surgery for spinal stenosis?

Spinal stenosis occurs when the canal that the spinal nerves go through narrows and presses on nerves, causing pain in the back or legs. It tends to happen more often in older people. Surgery can help reduce the pressure, but although most patients find that their leg pain improves, back pain isn't always helped, and people still have problems carrying out everyday tasks. This review was done to find out whether a supervised  programme of exercise (a rehabilitation programme) after surgery was more helpful for patients in their everyday lives than the usual advice to stay active.

Surgery for degenerative lumbar spondylosis

Degeneration of the lumbar spine is described as lumbar spondylosis or degenerative disc disease and may lead to spinal stenosis (narrowing of the spinal canal), vertebral instability and/or malalignment, which may be associated with back pain and/or leg symptoms. This review considers the available evidence on the procedures of spinal decompression (widening the spinal canal or laminectomy), nerve root decompression (of one or more individual nerves) and fusion of adjacent vertebrae. There is moderate evidence that instrumentation can increase the fusion rate, but any improvement in clinical outcomes is probably marginal. The effectiveness of intra‐discal electrotherapy (IDET) remains unproven. Only preliminary results are available on disc replacement and it is not possible to draw any conclusions on this subject.

See all (4)

Terms to know

Ankylosis
Fixation and immobility of a joint.
Cervical Spine
The upper portion of the spine closest to the skull. The cervical spine comprises seven vertebrae.
Lumbar Spine
The lower portion of the spine. The lumbar spine comprises five vertebrae.
Rheumatologist
Doctors who diagnose and treat diseases of the bones, joints, muscles, and tendons, including arthritis and collagen diseases.
Spinal Fusion
The surgical joining of two or more vertebrae together, usually with bone grafts and hardware. The resulting fused vertebrae are stable but immobile. Spinal fusion is used as a treatment for spondylolisthesis, scoliosis, herniated disks, and spinal stenosis.
Thoracic Spine
Thoracic vertebrae compose the middle segment, between the cervical vertebrae and the lumbar vertebrae. There are twelve thoracic vertebrae.
Vertebra
The individual bones that make up the spinal column.

More about Spinal Stenosis

Photo of an adult

See Also: Osteoarthritis

Other terms to know: See all 7
Ankylosis, Cervical Spine, Lumbar Spine

Related articles:
How the Spine Works

Keep up with systematic reviews on Spinal Stenosis:

RSS

PubMed Health Blog...

read all...