<p><strong>What Is Spinal Stenosis?</strong></p>
<p>Spinal stenosis is a narrowing of the spinal canal, the cavity within the vertebral column through which the spinal cord and nerves pass. Nerves leaving the spinal cord are called nerve roots; they pass through the vertebral column via small canals. Arthritic changes that cause overgrowth of vertebral bones may compress the spinal cord or the nerve roots, impairing sensation and muscle strength in the affected portion of the body. Most common among people in their 50s and 60s, spinal stenosis affects the lumbar (lower back) portion of the spine more than the cervical (neck) region. Symptoms include pain, numbness, and weakness in the neck, arms, lower back, and legs. As a result of leg weakness, people are prone to falls. Because the nerves controlling the bladder emerge from the lower spine, spinal stenosis may also cause urinary incontinence.</p>
Vertebral interbody fusion; Posterior spinal fusion; Arthrodesis; Anterior spinal fusion; Spine surgery - spinal fusion
Weinstein JN, Tosteson TD, Lurie JD, et al. Surgical versus nonsurgical therapy for lumbar spinal stenosis. N Engl J Med . 2008;358:794-810.
Katz JN, Harris MB. Clinical practice: lumbar spinal stenosis. N Engl J Med . 2008;358(8):818-825.
Chou R, Qaseem A, et al. Diagnosis and treatment of low back pain: a joint clinical practice guideline from the American College of Physicians and the American Pain Society. Ann Intern Med . 2007;147(7):478-491.
Hedequist DJ. Surgical treatment of congenital scoliosis. Orthop Clin North Am . 2007;38(4):497-509.
Curlee PM. Other disorders of the spine. In: Canale ST, Beatty JH, eds. Campbell 's Operative Orthopaedics . 11th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Mosby Elsevier; 2007:chap 41.
X-ray - lumbosacral spine; X-ray - lower spine
What abnormal results mean
Lumbosacral spine x-rays may show:
Abnormal curves of the spine
Abnormal wear on the cartilage and bones of the lower spine, such as bone spurs and narrowing of the joints between the vertebrae
Cancer (although cancer often cannot be seen on this type of x-ray)
Signs of thinning bones ( osteoporosis )
, in which a bone (vertebra) in the lower part of the spine slips out of the proper position onto the bone below it
Though some of these findings may be seen on an x-ray, they are not always caused by a person's back.
Many problems in the spine cannot be diagnosed using a lumbosacral x-ray, including:
Slipped or herniated disc
- narrowing of the spinal column
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