Spinal Stenosis

Osteopath treating patient.
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Spinal stenosis refers to a narrowing of the spinal canal. The spinal canal is formed by the vertebrae that make up our spine. It contains the spinal cord as well as nerve roots. When the spinal canal becomes narrow, it can compress portions of the spinal cord and nerves. This results in localized back pain, as well as pain that radiates down the arms or legs. Symptoms of muscular weakness can also occur due to spinal stenosis.

Causes of Spinal Stenosis:

Spinal stenosis has many causes including thickened ligaments along the spinal canal, bony spurs, and enlarged joint cartilage from arthritic changes. Decreased blood flow to the spine can also result in spinal stenosis.

When stenosis occurs, structures can place pressure upon lumbar nerve roots. This pressure typically occurs when you are walking, and is relieved when you sit down.


Spinal stenosis can be managed non-surgically through exercise, medications, rest, and weight reduction. If conservative management does not improve symptoms, surgery can be performed to relieve symptoms by decreasing the pressure on the spinal cord and nerves.


Edited by Brett Sears, PT.

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