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Types of spinal narrowing

There are several types of spinal narrowing and they depend on factors like the underlying cause, location and the spinal anatomy that has been affected. These types can affect the location and severity of symptoms that develop when the spinal cord or adjacent nerve roots are irritated or compressed.

The resulting pain, tingling, numbness and muscle weakness can be extremely debilitating, taking you away from your family, job and the activities you enjoy. Learning more about how spinal narrowing is classified can help you better work with your doctor to find relief if this condition is getting in the way of the life you deserve.

Classifications of spinal stenosis

Spinal narrowing can occur at any level of the spine, but is most common within the cervical (upper) and lumbar (lower) regions. These two areas are prone to degeneration because their relative flexibility allows for a wide range of bending, twisting, and turning that causes stress on the spine. Repetitive movement over the years can take a toll on the vertebrae, discs, ligaments, and other parts of the upper and lower spine. Osteoarthritis can produce bone spurs. Degenerative disc disease can produce herniated or bulging discs. Deteriorating cartilage can rob joints of their ability to articulate smoothly. Any of these conditions can contribute to the different types of spinal narrowing, which include:

  • Congenital — caused by an inherited condition such as scoliosis
  • Spinal canal — a narrowing of the space in the passageway through which the spinal cord passes
  • Foraminal — narrowing of the openings between vertebrae that nerve roots exit through
  • Cervical — narrowing of the upper spine
  • Thoracic — narrowing of the middle spine
  • Lumbar — narrowing of the lower spine

Treatment options

Conservative treatments such as epidural steroid injections, pain medication, exercise, and physical therapy generally are effective ways to manage the symptoms associated with spinal narrowing. However, if weeks or months of conservative treatment prove ineffective, contact USA Spine Care to learn about the benefits of minimally invasive spine surgery performed using muscle-sparing techniques. Since 2005 we have helped more than 75,000 patients find relief with these outpatient procedures that offer our patients less risk of complication compared to traditional open spine surgery.^

For a no-cost MRI review* to determine if you are a potential candidate for one of our procedures, reach out to one of our Spine Care Consultants today.

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