Stephen J. Schueler, M.D.

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Spinal Stenosis Overview

What is spinal stenosis?
A person with spinal stenosis has narrowing of the spinal canal. The narrowed canal can place pressure on the spinal cord, or place pressure on the nerves that branch off the spinal cord. This pressure can interrupt the normal flow of information between the brain and the body. Spinal stenosis can occur anywhere in the spine, but most cases of spinal stenosis occur in the lower back. The most common cause of spinal stenosis is osteoarthritis. About 1 out of 200 people over the age of 50 have spinal stenosis.

What are the symptoms of spinal stenosis?
The most common symptoms of spinal stenosis include neck pain or back pain. Additional symptoms may include shoulder pain, arm pain, arm numbness, arm weakness, leg pain, leg numbness, leg weakness, impotence, or urinary incontinence.

How does the doctor treat spinal stenosis?
Treatment for spinal stenosis may include rest, a neck or back brace, physical therapy, corticosteroid medication, or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications for pain. Additional treatment may include surgery.

Continue to Spinal Stenosis Incidence

Last Updated: Nov 16, 2010 References
Authors: Stephen J. Schueler, MD; John H. Beckett, MD; D. Scott Gettings, MD
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PubMed Spinal Stenosis References
  1. Sengupta DK, Herkowitz HN. Lumbar spinal stenosis. Treatment strategies and indications for surgery. Orthop Clin North Am. 2003 Apr;34(2):281-95. [12914268]
  2. Snyder DL, Doggett D, Turkelson C. Treatment of degenerative lumbar spinal stenosis. Am Fam Physician. 2004 Aug 1;70(3):517-20. [15317438]
  3. Thomas SA. Spinal stenosis: history and physical examination. Phys Med Rehabil Clin N Am. 2003 Feb;14(1):29-39. [12622480]
  4. Yuan PS, Booth RE Jr, Albert TJ. Nonsurgical and surgical management of lumbar spinal stenosis. Instr Course Lect. 2005;54:303-12. [15948458]
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