Spinal stenosis is a narrowing of the canal that houses our spinal cord/nerves. The narrowing is usually a result of the build up of bone spurs and thickened ligaments which occur as a response to degenerative disc disease. Our bodies build up bone spurs in our vertebrae and thicken the ligaments around our vertebrae to compensate for the weakened disc from degeneration. A side effect of this build up is that it narrows the canal that houses the spinal cord and nerves.
Symptoms vary depending on the area of the spine affected by the stenosis. When stenosis is present in the cervical spine in the neck directly below the skull, symptoms can include weakness or tingling in the arm and hand and difficulty walking and/or balancing. For patients with stenosis in the lumbar spine, the last five vertebrae in the spinal column, pain or cramping in the legs is the most common symptom.
While treatment for spinal stenosis can be limited to the prescription of mild painkillers or muscle relaxants, surgical solutions include laminectomy, laminotomy, laminoplasty, discectomies, vertebrectomy, and various types of fusions.