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About Spinal Stenosis

Spinal stenosis refers to narrowing of the spinal canal or the bony openings through which nerves exit the spine causing nerve root compression. In adults, this usually results from a combination of multiple changes which narrow the canal. Lumbar spinal stenosis is one of the most common causes of low back pain in the elderly and can lead to significant disability.


The symptoms of spinal stenosis range from low back pain to inflammation of the nerves resulting in pain, cramping, or weakness in the lower leg and/or hip, buttock, and possibly sensory changes when performing activities. Since the causes of spinal stenosis are most frequently due to degeneration and arthritis, the symptoms of spinal stenosis only progress slowly over time, if at all.


Although degenerative changes in the spine can cause structural compression of the spinal cord and roots, it is thought that inflammation around the nerve roots may contribute to some of the symptoms of spinal stenosis. It is this inflammatory component of spinal stenosis that is the target of treatments such as oral anti-inflammatory medications and epidural steroid injections.


The BOLD Project is supported by grant number 1R01HS019222-01 from the
Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ)