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Spinal Stenosis

What Is Spinal Stenosis?

The spinal canal is formed by the central openings of a series of bones (vertebrae) stacked on top of each other.

  • The upper part of the spinal canal is the cervical spine in the neck, the middle part is the thoracic spine of the midback, and the lower part is the lumbar spine of the lower back.
  • The spinal canal is attached to the head at the top and to the pelvis at the bottom.
  • The spinal cord passes from the brain through the spinal canal and travels down the back. Nerves exit off the spinal cord between vertebrae of the neck and low back that help control the arms and legs respectively.

Spinal stenosis is a condition whereby there is abnormal narrowing in the spinal canal. This narrowing limits the amount of space available for the spinal cord and nerves. As spinal stenosis becomes more severe there is compression or squeezing of the spinal cord and its nerves. Spinal stenosis can occur anywhere in the spinal canal, but it is most common in the cervical and lumbar spine.

Last Reviewed 11/21/2017

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Patient Comments & Reviews

The eMedicineHealth doctors ask about Spinal Stenosis:

Lumbar Spinal Stenosis - Symptoms

What was the treatment for your lumbar spinal stenosis?

Lumbar Spinal Stenosis - Describe Your Experience

Please describe your experience with lumbar spinal stenosis.

Lumbar Spinal Stenosis - Treatment

What was the treatment for your lumbar spinal stenosis?

Spinal Stenosis Treatment

You can most likely control mild to moderate symptoms with pain medicines, exercise, and physical therapy. Your doctor may also give you a spinal shot of corticosteroids, a medicine that reduces inflammation.



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