Common Causes of Spinal Stenosis

Considering the important functions that take place in and around your spine, it’s surprisingly narrow. As the hub of your peripheral and central nervous systems, your spine, with its 24 vertebral bones stacked upon each other, forms a protective column for the roots of those nerves. 

But just as the never-ending construction reduces the lanes on Highway 360, when your spine gets narrower, you feel pain. The nerves that once moved freely in and out of your spinal column, now get pinched at the exit points, like cars squeezing together at off ramps. This gridlock in your spine is called spinal stenosis, and it can cause pain, numbness, weakness, balance issues, and even bladder and bowel problems.

At Regency Pain & Therapy Institute in Mansfield, Texas, our team specializes in treating all types of pain, including the unique symptoms of spinal stenosis, but it’s not a one-size-fits-all approach. The first step in alleviating your pain and other symptoms is getting to the root cause of your spinal stenosis. Here are the most common causes. 

Osteoarthritis

Osteoarthritis, known as the wear-and-tear type of arthritis, develops when the protective cartilage between your bones deteriorates due to age and overuse. It can happen in any of your joints, but when it happens in your spine, two things occur:

  1. The neural-foramen — the openings between the vertebrae — narrow
  2. Osteophytes (bone spurs) form on the bone that rub together

Any nerves that get caught, compressed, or irritated by these changes in your spine can cause pain anywhere along the path of the nerve.

Thickened ligaments

Another by-product of aging, thickened ligaments in your spine can reduce the space allowed for nerve function. To a certain degree, thickening ligaments, like degenerating discs, is inevitable. Over time, the tough fibers begin to calcify and get larger, which, of course, narrows the space they occupy and leads to spinal stenosis.

Disc and vertebrae disruptions

Your discs are one of your spine’s best assets. Simultaneously tough and tender, they cushion and cradle your vertebrae, yet withstand great pressure and even a fair amount of force. But if they bulge beyond their borders (herniated disc) or rupture completely, they become a menace to your spine, causing significant narrowing and painful pressure.

Likewise, if your vertebrae slip out of position (spondylolisthesis), it narrows the spinal canal and causes lower back pain.

Injury

Sports injuries and car accidents that affect your back can lead to spinal stenosis, as well. Whether you dislocate the bones or fracture or shatter a vertebra, it changes the structure and function of your spine. There’s just enough room for the nerves to move freely in a healthy spine; when the vertebrae break and shift, there’s no space left for the nerves.

Plus, injuries typically generate inflammation, with or without broken bones, and the swelling can lead to spinal stenosis, too.

Tumors

Although rare — only 0.5% of all tumors develop on the spinal cord — tumors that take up space in your spine can also cause spinal stenosis. 

Relief from spinal stenosis symptoms

Depending on what’s causing your spine to narrow, we offer treatments to reduce inflammation, alleviate pain, and correct the anatomical problems that led to your spinal stenosis. From physical therapy that strengthens your spinal structure and decompression therapy that creates more space, to pain killing medications and even surgery, our team at Regent Pain &Therapy Institute can treat your spinal stenosis and help you live a pain-free life.

To learn more about our effective treatments for spinal stenosis, call our office at 817-435-1642, or schedule an appointment online today. 

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