Back aches and pains are a health concern for millions of people. Nearly 28 million Americans saw their doctors because of back and low back pain in 2001. There may be many reasons for backaches and pains. One cause could be spinal stenosis.
Stenosis means narrowing. In spinal stenosis, the spinal canal, which contains and protects the spinal cord and nerve roots, narrows and pinches the spinal cord and nerves. The result is low back pain as well as pain in the legs. Stenosis may pinch the nerves that control muscle power and sensation in the legs.
Causes of Spinal Stenosis
There are many potential causes for spinal stenosis, including:
Aging. As you get older, the ligaments (tough connective tissues between the bones in the spine) can thicken. Spurs (small growths) may develop on the bones and into the spinal canal. The cushioning disks between the vertebrae may begin to deteriorate. The facet joints (flat surfaces on each vertebra that form the spinal column) also may begin to break down.
Heredity. If the spinal canal is too small at birth, symptoms may show up in a relatively young person.
Changes in blood flow to the lumbar spine.
Symptoms of Spinal Stenosis
- Pain and difficulty when walking, aggravated by activity.
- Numbness, tingling, hot or cold feelings, weakness or a heavy and tired feeling in the legs.
- Clumsiness, frequent falling, or a foot-slapping gait.