The word stenosis comes from ancient greek and means narrowing, is an abnormal narrowing in a tubular organ or blood vessel. This narrowing usually occurs in the region of the spinal canal.

Symptoms of Spinal Stenosis

A neurological déficit is one of the consequences of the narrowing, furthermore the patient will feel pain, numbness, paraesthesia and loss of motor control.

Leg pain with walking can be caused by either spinal stenosis or from arterial circulatory insufficiency (vascular claudication). Leg pain from either condition will go away with rest, but with spinal stenosis the patient usually has to sit down for a few minutes to ease the leg and often low back pain.

Although occasionally the leg pain and stenosis symptoms will come on sharply, they generally develop over the course of several years. The longer a patient with spinal stenosis stands or walks, the worse the leg pain will get.

There are several types of spinal stenosis, the most frequent are lumbar stenosis and cervical stenosis. While lumbar spinal stenosis is more common, cervical spinal stenosis is more dangerous because it involves compression of the spinal cord whereas the lumbar spinal stenosis involves compression of the cauda equina.

Diagnose of Spinal Stenosis

spinal stenosis surgeon specialistThe location of the stenosis determines which area of the body is affected. With spinal stenosis, the spinal canal is narrowed at the vertebral canal, which is a foramen between the vertebrae where the spinal cord ( in the cervical or thoracis spine) or nerve roots pass through.

It can be shown that each form of spinal stenosis has a dynamic (changing) effect on nerve compression, such as when bearing weight. Due to this changing compression, spinal stenosis symptoms vary from time to time and the physical examination generally will not show any neurological deficits or motor weakness.

Some recent scanning methods allow the upright body position to study the effects of spinal loading.

Diagnostic imaging studies for patients with cervical stenosis or lumbar stenosis include either an MRI scan or a CT scan with myelogram (using an x-ray dye in the spinal sack fluid).