What is Spinal Stenosis?
The word stenosis is defined as an abnormal narrowing of any opening in the body.
You can have aortic valve stenosis (narrowing at the valve to the major artery of the heart), bronchial stenosis (narrowing of the bronchial tube of the lung), or intestinal stenosis, which is, well, just…very unpleasant.
The term spinal stenosis relates to an abnormal narrowing of either...
The spinal cord canal or
The nerve openings
Think of a piece of Swiss cheese. Swiss cheese has holes big enough for spinal nerves to pass through. Change that cheese to a baby Swiss, suddenly the holes aren’t big enough—and, it’s kind of like this in your spine:
(This is not meant in any way to disparage baby Swiss cheese, which is
a fine cheese for sandwiches or even just a snack.)
Symptoms of Spinal Stenosis
When the holes in the spine are narrowed like this, people can experience:
Severe low back pain
Feelings of heaviness or pressure in the low back
Weakness or cramping in the legs
Difficulty standing up straight (pain eased by bending forward)
Loss of balance
Pain or weakness relieved by sitting
Pain and weakness increasing with prolonged standing
(in severe cases) Loss of bowel or bladder function