Spinal stenosis affects more than 200,000 people per year in the US. Spinal stenosis, a narrowing of the gaps in your spine, can compress your spinal cord and the nerve roots that emerge from each vertebra.
Usually, the neck and lower back are affected. Wear and tear that comes with aging is a common cause of the condition.
The spinal canal protects the spinal cord from injury in daily life, but it can also cause pressure on it if it narrows for any reason. There are several causes of such narrowing depending on the region of the vertebral column.
Causes of Spinal Stenosis
Spinal stenosis “narrowing” commonly occurs due to the following reasons:
- Some congenital diseases: Congenital diseases are those which we are born with. They are a rare cause of spinal stenosis and include achondroplasia “dwarfism”, and osteopetrosis, which is the increased deposition of bone substance in different bones.
- Due to degenerative changes of the vertebral discs. Our vertebral discs are those which “cushion” the movement of vertebra over each other, and they undergo normal degenerative processes as age progresses. These degenerative processes reach a limit where they end in narrowing of the canal and the occurrence of symptoms.
- Some bone-related diseases such as Paget’s disease. Paget’s disease results from abnormal bone deposition and resorption, which means that your bones no longer get shaped properly. This results in different problems including spinal stenosis.
- Tumors: Some tumors, both benign and malignant, and both affecting the bones or the cartilage can result in spinal stenosis.
- Surgery: Spinal surgery can treat many conditions and is the go-to after failure of medical therapy in virtually all conditions affecting the back. It can, however, precipitate spinal stenosis especially in surgery done to remove part of the disc (diskectomy).
- Endocrine disorders: One of the causes of spinal stenosis is acromegaly. Acromegaly is an endocrine disorder that results in the excess release of growth hormone in adults. Unlike children, growth hormone in adults does not cause increased height of bones, but rather increased thickness. This results in narrowing of the spinal canal.