Spinal stenosis is a narrowing of the spine, often in the cervical (upper) or lumbar (lower) spinal regions. This narrowing can cause compression of the spinal cord or spinal nerve roots, which typically leads to pain and other debilitating symptoms. If spinal stenosis becomes chronic, it can have a severe impact on your life, taking you away from the people and activities you love. Getting a basic overview of this condition can help you better work with your doctor to get the treatment you need for a return to daily activity.
Causes and symptoms
One common cause of spinal stenosis is osteoarthritis, a condition which affects the cartilage cushioning your spine’s joints. This protective cartilage can wear down, eventually exposing the bone underneath. As the exposed bones in the joint rub against each other, the result is stiff, swollen joints that can cause narrowing of the nerve passageways in the spine. To learn more about diseases related to spinal vertebrae and joints, visit our facet disease page.
Symptoms of spinal stenosis can mimic strained muscles and slipped discs, making a self-diagnosis tricky. Spinal stenosis symptoms might include:
Neck or lower back pain
Joint or muscle stiffness
Tingling and numbness in the upper or lower extremities
If you have been experiencing these symptoms for longer than a few days to a week, you should see your doctor for a diagnosis and treatment of your condition.
Treating spinal stenosis
Your doctor should be able to make a proper diagnosis by through a physical examination and review of medical history. More advanced methods like a neurological examination and diagnostic imagery like a CT scan or MRI may be required. For an in-depth look into treatment after diagnosis, review our spinal stenosis treatments page.
In some situations patients diagnosed with spinal stenosis require more than conservative treatment to find relief from their symptoms. If you are considering surgery to treat spinal stenosis but are concerned about the risks that come with traditional open spine surgery, reach out to USA Spine Care. Our minimally invasive outpatient spine surgery involves a less than 1-inch incision to access the spine. The result is a shorter recovery time^ and less risk of complication for our procedures compared to traditional open spine surgery.
Contact us for a no-cost MRI review* to find out if you’re a candidate for our outpatient procedures.
Learn more today
If you're living with spinal stenosis in the upper spine and searching for relief, reach out to USA Spine Care for help. Our multidisciplinary team is dedicated to helping people develop the right care plan to reach treatment goals and achieve lasting relief.
Patients can expect recovery to last 4-6 weeks in most cases (depending on the complexity of your condition). People who choose minimally invasive spine surgery recover faster and get back to work sooner than those who choose open back surgery. Read more in the links below: Recovery After a ProcedureWhat to ExpectRecovery Times
Problems from anesthesia.
A deep infection in the surgical wound.
A skin infection.
Nerve injury, including weakness, numbness, or paralysis.
Tears in the fibrous tissue that covers the spinal cord and the nerve near the spinal cord. These tears may require more surgery.
Trouble passing urine, or loss of bladder or bowel control.
Long-term (chronic) pain, which happens after surgery in some cases.
The chance that the surgery won't relieve your symptoms. And even if you get better with surgery, there is a chance that you may get new symptoms in the future.
Death from problems caused by surgery, but this is rare.
^Results are typical, but not guaranteed, each patients experience with spine surgery will differ.
For more information, visit usaspinecare.com/results. The information contained on this website is for educational purposes only, and is not intended to serve as a replacement for a medical diagnosis.
*Our MRI review is an informational review of the MRI report that you provide to us and is not a form of diagnosis. A diagnosis and a final determination of whether you may benefit from treatment at USA Spine Care can only be made after you have been physically examined by our medical professionals at USA Spine Care. The MRI review has no value and will not be billed.