Spinal stenosis
Narrowing of the spinal canal. Spinal stenosis is most commonly caused by degeneration of the discs between the bony building blocks of the spine (vertebrae). The result is compression of the nerve roots or spinal cord by bony spurs or soft tissues, such as discs, in the spinal canal. This most commonly occurs in the low back (lumbar spine), but can also occur the neck (cervical spine) and less frequently in the upper back (thoracic spine). The symptoms of spinal stenosis vary depending location on the nerve tissues being irritated and the degree of irritation. When the neck is affected, it can result in unusual sensations in the arms and/or poor leg function and incontinence. When the low back is affected, the classic symptom is pain radiating down both legs while walking that is relieved by resting (called pseudoclaudication). Persistent mechanical irritation of the nerves to the leg can have longterm consequences. If symptoms are mild, conservative measures designed to relieve the nerve irritation are used, such as medications to relieve inflammation and/or mechanical supports and/or back exercises. Antiinflammation medications can be given to reduce the swelling of tissues (disc or other local soft tissues) that are pressing against the nerves. Examples include by mouth: ibuprofen/naproxen and others and cortisone related medication, such as prednisone; by injection: either throughout the body by injection into the muscle; or into the spinal canal (epidural injection). When symptoms are severe, surgery is necessary. The operation involves surgical resection of the bone and soft tissues that are impinging on the nerves and/or spinal cord. Operation is generally considered only with persisting, intolerable symptoms.

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spinal stenosis n narrowing of the lumbar spinal column that produces pressure on the nerve roots resulting in sciatica and a condition resembling intermittent claudication and that usu. occurs in middle or old age

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narrowing of the vertebral canal, nerve root canals, or intervertebral foramina of the lumbar spine caused by encroachment of bone upon the space; symptoms are caused by compression of the cauda equina and include pain, paresthesias, and neurogenic claudication. The condition may be either congenital or due to spinal degeneration. Called also lumbar spinal s. See also spinal compression under compression.

Medical dictionary. 2011.

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