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Spinal Stenosis: Things You Should Know

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Spinal Stenosis: Things You Should Know

Neuro Sciences | by Dr. Arabinda Mukherjee | Published on 26/12/2022


Spinal Stenosis refers to the medical condition which leads to the narrowing of the spaces inside the spine. People with spinal stenosis often do not realise they have the condition and mistake it for back pain. Prolonging the condition can lead to chronic backaches which may require surgical intervention. Let us deep dive to understand more about the condition and how you can manage the pain. Please note that this blog is for informational purposes only and cannot replace the importance of a doctor’s consultation.If you are facing any problems, we will recommend that you visit your neurology doctor in Kolkata and learn more about your conditions and treatment.

What Happens During Spinal Stenosis?

Spinal stenosis is the narrowing of one or more spaces within the spine which reduces the space available for the spinal cord and nerves. A tightened space irritates the spinal cord and nerves which can lead to back pain and sciatica. Most people who encounter spinal stenosis, fall in the age bracket of 50 years and above. However, some people born with a narrow spinal canal are also at an increased risk of spinal stenosis.

How Do I Know If I Have spinal stenosis?

Spinal stenosis compresses the spinal cord and nerve roots exiting the vertebrae. The symptoms can either occur gradually over time or due to wear and tear. This is why most patients with spinal stenosis symptoms may not feel any pain for a long time. 

Spinal stenosis can occur anywhere along the spine but is most often felt along the lower back (lumbar canal stenosis) and neck (cervical spinal stenosis). Depending on the severity and area of the stenosis, you are likely to experience pain, numbing or tingling sensation, and weakness in the neck, back, arms, legs, hands or feet. 

Spinal stenosis: How Does it Occur? 

There are several causes which can lead to spinal stenosis. While congenital factors also contribute to the progression of the disease, the primary reason for spinal stenosis involves the narrowing of space around the spinal cord. Additionally, doctors also associate different factors which contribute to the spinal stenosis causes. These mostly include - 

  • Arthritic spurs or Bone overgrowth which refers to the wear & tears in the cartilage which breaks down the cartilage in the joint, including the spine. Cartilage is the protective covering in the joint which usually rubs away due to constant wear and tear. Bone spurs or overgrown bones on the vertebrae which extend into the spinal canal. This narrows the space and pinches the nerves causing pain and discomfort.
  • Herniated Disks - Vertebral disk is a flat round cushion pad that is located between each vertebra. It absorbs shock along the spine. However, in case of thickened ligaments, spinal fracture injuries, tumours, or congenital spinal stenosis, the outer edge of the disk cracks causing the gel-like centre to tears. This increases the risk of back pain and eventually leads to spinal stenosis. 

How Is spinal stenosis Diagnosed?

Spinal stenosis diagnosis involves a combination of physical examination and symptom analysis. The doctor will feel your spine and press the areas to check for pain and discomfort. Furthermore, the doctor may recommend diagnostic tests which can determine the exact location, type and extent of the problem. Imagines tests such as x-rays, MRI, and CT myelogram can help the doctor generate 3-D images of the spine to pinpoint the epicentre of pain.

Spinal Stenosis Treatment: What Are Your Options?

The choice of spinal stenosis treatment varies depending on the type and area of the condition. In case of mild to moderate symptoms, the doctor may suggest OTC medications and home remedies manage the pain. You can also try applying heat to manage pain due to osteoarthritis. Heat increases blood flow and helps the muscles relax. Minimal exercises can also help relieve stress and strengthen muscles to support the spine and improve flexibility and balance.

Other options for spinal stenosis treatment include medications such as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications (NSAIDs) to help relieve inflammation and provide relief from pain due to spinal stenosis. However, it is important to discuss your medical condition with the doctor to avoid allergies and complications due to certain medications. The doctor may also recommend physical therapy, steroid injections, and decompression procedures to treat spinal stenosis. 

Surgical options for spinal stenosis involve outpatient procedures, also known as percutaneous image-guided lumbar decompression (PILD) which is performed through a tiny incision. Spinal stenosis surgery is done when all other methods are ineffective against the condition. The surgeon uses special medical instruments which can reduce the chances of complications and ensure a faster recovery.


Spinal stenosis develops slowly over time but can cause harmful effects. It is important to be aware of the symptoms to undergo early diagnosis and effective treatment. The condition becomes difficult to recognise since it can mimic other mFneedical disorders. The doctor may recommend conservative treatment methods or suggest surgery for long-term health benefits. Most people who undergo spinal stenosis surgery live a better quality of life with reduced pain and improved body functionality. 



Are there any risks of spinal stenosis surgery?

Yes, depending on the medical health of the individual and the severity of the condition, there may be rare chances of risks associated with spinal stenosis surgery. Possible risks from the surgery include - 

  • Nerve injury
  • Tear in the membrane that covers the nerve or spinal cord
  • Failure of the bone to heal after surgery
  • Failure of the metal plates, screws and other fasteners
  • Chances of recurrence
  • Abnormal bleeding

What medical disorders can mimic spinal stenosis?

Several medical disorders can mimic spinal stenosis due to the intensity of the symptoms and area of pain. Medical issues like - 

What are the surgical options for spinal stenosis treatment?

Spinal stenosis surgery includes the following methods - 

  • Laminectomy (decompression surgery)
  • Laminotomy
  • Laminoplasty
  • Foraminotomy
  • Interspinous process spaces
  • Spinal Fusion

Whom should I consult for my spinal stenosis symptoms?

In case you are experiencing spinal stenosis symptoms, get in touch with a neurologist. A neurologist specialises in diagnosing and treating conditions related to the brain.