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What Is Narrowing of the Spine?

By Paul Cartmell ; Updated July 27, 2017

According to the Mayo Clinic, narrowing of the spine, or spinal stenosis as it also known. is a common problem in the U.S. in people aged 50 and older. The problem can appear in any area of the back, causing reduced motion and pain.

Definition

Medline Plus describes spinal stenosis as a narrowing of areas in the center of the spine, canals that branch off the spine or between the vertebrae of the spine.

Symptoms

The spinal cord affects motion in humans, allowing us to bend and stand straight. The Mayo Clinic reports that narrowing of the spine puts pressure on the spinal cord and nerves around the spinal cord, resulting in cramping, pain and numbness in the back, legs, shoulders, arms and neck.

Causes

Narrowing of the spine is a common problem among older people, and according to Medline Plus, it is commonly found in people affected by osteoarthritis-related bone damage. Younger people can also be affected by narrowing of the spine when they have had spinal injuries or a narrow spinal canal.

Numbers

The information group Spinal Stenosis reports surgery to treat narrowing of the spine to be the most common surgery in the people over age 60 in the U.S., with an estimated 400,000 people suffering from narrowing of the spine.

Treatment

There are a number of treatment options for narrowing of the spine with the Mayo Clinic reporting the use of no surgical treatments such as physical therapy, anti-inflammatory drugs and back braces. Surgery is used as an option to relieve spinal pressure and maintain the strength and shape of the spine.

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