Spinal stenosis is a condition where there’s an abnormal narrowing in the spinal canal. This narrowing limits the amount of space available for the spinal cord and nerves. As spinal stenosis becomes more severe there is compression or squeezing of the spinal cord and its nerves. Spinal stenosis can occur anywhere in the spinal canal, but it is most common in the cervical and lumbar spine.
The first symptoms of stenosis are bouts of low back or neck pain. After a few months or years, this may progress to pain that is described as claudicate pain or claudication. This is a sensation of not getting enough blood to the arms or legs. It occurs more frequently in the legs.
Illustration of the anatomy of the lumbar region of the spine.
Illustration of a healthy vertebral disc.
Illustration of the difference in the spinal canal and facet joints of a normal vertebral disc (left) and a vertebral disc with spinal stenosis (right).