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postheadericon An Introduction to Spinal Stenosis

Article by Jason Knapfel

According to a Swedish study, the annual occurrence of spinal stenosis is approximately 5 per 100,000 of the country’s citizens. The condition was defined as a spinal canal of 11 mm or less among patients. Spinal stenosis is a condition that usually occurs in people after the age of 50.

What is Spinal Stenosis?

Spinal stenosis is the narrowing of the spinal canal. It may come about due to a herniated disc, excessive bone growth, or tissue that thickens in the canal. When thickening of the spinal canal occurs it may cause irritation in the spinal or spinal nerve roots.

Spinal stenosis will often occur in the lower back, which can cause pain, weakness or numbness in the feet, legs, or buttocks. However, it can also occur in the neck, which is referred to as cervical stenosis. This version will still cause the same symptoms as in the lower back, but it affects the neck, arms and legs. Spinal stenosis can even cause problems with bowel and bladder control.

The most common form of spinal stenosis is degenerative stenosis, which happens in most people as we get older.

One form of the condition that does not wait until we hit middle age is congenital lumbar stenosis. This variation is pretty rare and usually begins at a relatively early age (between 30 and 40).


The vast majority of spinal injuries occur because of a traumatic event, including an car accident, sports, or taking a spill. However, spinal stenosis usually comes about due to non-traumatic causes: age, tumors, osteoarthritis, or genetic disorders.

If you’re suffering from back pain and suspect that it may be something more than overdoing it in a weekend activity, you may want to consult your doctor about what is causing your pain.

Spinal stenosis is certainly a difficult diagnosis since the symptoms you will notice happen to resemble those of other age-related conditions. Your doctor may suggest a spinal x-ray, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), or a a CT myelogram which involves injecting a contrast dye into the spinal column.

If you are diagnosed with spinal stenosis, there’s no cure for the condition. It does not discriminate between male or female, race or ethnicity. It’s not even something more apt to occur to someone who does manual labor for a living.

Sometimes over-the-counter pain killers will do the trick, but you may be prescribed something a little more substantial. Other options include physical therapy to improve symptoms or as a last resort, surgery.

About the Author

Jason Knapfel is Content Manager for Webfor, an SEO firm based in the Portland, Oregon metro area. One of the company’s clients is Dr. Todd Kuether, a spinal surgeon in Portland, OR.