Spinal stenosis is a narrowing of the spaces in the spine, or backbone, where the spinal cord is located. It puts pressure on the spinal cord, which in turn causes pain and disruption to some body functions.
Because spinal stenosis is usually caused by the degeneration (the breaking down, or deterioration) of bones, disks, and ligaments during the aging process, it mostly affects people over the age of 50. In younger people, the condition is usually a result of a genetic disease that affects bone and muscle development, like scoliosis and Paget's disease. Some people may be born with the defect while others suffer a spinal injury that causes it. Tumors can also lead to spinal stenosis.
Some people don't feel the effects of spinal stenosis, but most will experience symptoms like pain or cramping in the legs when walking or standing for long periods of time; numbness, weakness, or tingling in a leg, foot, arm, or hand; and bladder or bowel functioning problems. Symptoms tend to worsen over time.
To treat spinal stenosis, a doctor might recommend a variety of medications, physical therapy, and steroid injections; for severe cases, surgery can increase space in the spinal area and relieve pressure. At-home treatments like over-the-counter pain medications, hot or cold packs, and using a cane or walker also might help.
With proper treatment and some changes in lifestyle, many people with spinal stenosis can remain active for many years.
All A to Z dictionary entries are regularly reviewed by KidsHealth medical experts.
|American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS) The AAOS provides information for the public on sports safety, and bone, joint, muscle, ligament and tendon injuries or conditions.|
|National Institutes of Health (NIH) NIH is an Agency under the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and offers health information and scientific resources.|
|American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) The AAP is committed to the health and well-being of infants, adolescents, and young adults. The website offers news articles and tips on health for families.|
|Scoliosis Research Society The Scoliosis Research Society's site provides patients and their parents with a better understanding of scoliosis and its diagnosis and management.|
|Can Scoliosis Affect My Height? Find out what the experts have to say.|
|Word! Scoliosis Scoliosis is an abnormal curve of the spine, also known as the backbone.|
|X-Ray Exam: Scoliosis Kids with scoliosis have a spine that curves, like an S or a C. If scoliosis is suspected, a doctor may order X-rays to measure the curvature of the spine.|
|Scoliosis The word scoliosis means a curve in the spine. You may know someone with scoliosis - read our article for kids to find out more.|
|Brain and Nervous System If the brain is a central computer that controls all the functions of the body, then the nervous system is like a network that relays messages back and forth to different parts of the body. Find out how they work in this Body Basics article.|
|Your Brain & Nervous System Your brain is the boss of your body and runs the whole show. Learn more in this article for kids.|
|Brain and Nervous System The brain controls everything we do, and is often likened to the central computer within a vast, complicated communication network, working at lightning speed.|
|Scoliosis Everyone's spine curves, but some kids have scoliosis, which causes the spine to curve too much. Most cases don't require treatment, but even when they do, kids can usually resume an active life after treatment.|
|Scoliosis Some teens have a curve in a place where it doesn't really belong: the spine. Here are the straight facts about scoliosis.|
What to expect when coming to Akron Children's
For healthcare providers and nurses
Residency & Fellowships, Medical Students, Nursing and Allied Health
For prospective employees and career-seekers
Our online community that provides inspirational stories and helpful information.