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Definition Return to top
Spinal stenosis is a narrowing of the lumbar (back) or cervical (neck) spinal canal, which causes compression of the nerve roots.
Causes Return to top
Spinal stenosis mainly affects middle-aged or elderly people. It may be caused by osteoarthritis or Paget's disease or by an injury that causes pressure on the nerve roots or the spinal cord itself.
Symptoms Return to top
Exams and Tests Return to top
Neurological examination confirms leg weakness and decreased sensation in the legs.
Treatment Return to top
Generally, conservative management is encouraged. This involves the use of anti-inflammatory medications, other pain relievers, and possibly steroid injections. If the pain is persistent and does not respond to these measures, surgery is considered to relieve the pressure on the nerves.
Surgery is performed on the neck or lower back, depending on the site of the nerve compression.
Outlook (Prognosis) Return to top
If the nerve roots can be successfully relieved of pressure, the symptoms will not worsen and may improve.
Possible Complications Return to top
Injury can occur to the legs or feet due to lack of sensation. Infections may get worse because pain related to them may not be felt. Changes caused by nerve compression may be permanent, even if the pressure is relieved.
When to Contact a Medical Professional Return to top
Call your health care provider if you have symptoms of spinal stenosis.Update Date: 5/12/2008 Updated by: Thomas N. Joseph, MD, Private Practice specializing in Orthopaedics, subspecialty Foot and Ankle, Camden Bone & Joint, Camden, SC. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.