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All about spinal stenosis causes of spinal stenosis symptoms of spinal stenosis diagnosis of spinal stenosis treatment for spinal stenosis

What causes spinal stenosis?

Spinal stenosis can be congenital, acquired, or a combination. Congenital spinal stenosis is a birth defect. Spinal stenosis is most often caused by degeneration of the discs between the vertebrae due to osteoarthritis. Rheumatoid arthritis usually affects people at an earlier age than osteoarthritis does and is associated with inflammation and enlargement of the soft tissues of the joints. The portions of the vertebral column with the greatest mobility (for example, the neck area) are often the

ones most affected in people with rheumatoid arthritis. Nonarthritic causes of spinal stenosis include tumors of the spine, trauma, Paget's disease of bone, and fluorosis. The aging process can cause thickening and hardening of connective tissues (ligaments). Joint disease (osteoarthritis) may destroy the tissue that protects and cushions joints (cartilage). These conditions contribute to deterioration of spinal discs, the development of bony growths (spurs), and damage to spinal joints, which in turn may narrow the space in the spinal canal (spinal stenosis).

Acquired spinal stenosis develops after birth. It is usually a consequence of tissue destruction (degeneration) caused by an infectious disease or a disease in which the immune system attacks the body's own cells (autoimmune disease). The two most common causes of spinal stenosis are birth defect and progressive degeneration of the tissue of the joints (osteoarthritis). Other causes include improper alignment of the vertebrae as in spondylolisthesis, destruction of bone tissue as in Paget's disease, or an overgrowth of bone tissue as in diffuse idiopathic skeletal hyperostosis. The spinal canal is usually more than 11.5 millimeters in diameter. A smaller diameter indicates stenosis. The diameter of the cervical spine ranges is 15-25 millimeters. Any opening under 13 millimeters in diameter is considered evidence of stenosis. Acquired spinal stenosis usually begins with degeneration of the intervertebral disks or the surfaces of the vertebrae or both. In trying to heal this degeneration, the body builds up the spinal column. In the process, the spinal canal can become narrower.

More information on spinal stenosis

What is spinal stenosis? - Spinal stenosis is a progressive narrowing of the opening in the spinal canal caused by excessive growth of bone and thickening of tissue.
What causes spinal stenosis? - Spinal stenosis can be congenital, acquired, or a combination. Spinal stenosis is often caused by degeneration of the discs.
What're the symptoms of spinal stenosis? - The classic symptom of spinal stenosis is leg pain when walking and standing that is relieved by sitting.
How is spinal stenosis diagnosed? - A diagnosis of spinal stenosis usually is based on your history of symptoms, a physical examination, and imaging tests.
What's the treatment for spinal stenosis? - Mild cases of spinal stenosis may be treated with rest, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and muscle relaxants.
Bone, joint, & muscle disorders

Topics in bone, joint, and muscle disorders

Bone diseases
Bone tumors
Bone cancer
Muscle diseases
Spine (neck and back) disorders
Dupuytren's contracture
Plantar fasciitis
Rheumatoid arthritis
Juvenile rheumatoid arthritis
Septic arthritis (infectious Arthritis)
Psoriatic arthritis
Reiter's syndrome (reactive arthritis)
Ankylosing spondylitis
Gout (gouty arthritis)

All information is intended for reference only. Please consult your physician for accurate medical advices and treatment. Copyright 2005,, all rights reserved. Last update: July 18, 2005