Charlottesville Pain Management Center - Interventional Pain Specialist, Musculoskeletal and Sports Medicine

Causes of Spinal Stenosis

What Causes Spinal Stenosis?

Spinal stenosis is a common condition frequently associated with the 24px aging process.  Although there are many causes of narrowing of the spinal canal, by far the most common cause is arthritic changes of the spine.  Osteoarthritis of the joints (facets) of the spine results in increased bone growth along the edges of the joint that can narrow both the central canal and the small canals on the side of the spine where the nerves exit (the foramina).  Thickening of the spinal ligaments (ligamentum flavum and others) is also a frequent additional cause of stenosis. Also, as we age, the discs frequently lose water content and become flatter. This condition is often referred to a degenerative disc disease.  As disc flattening or degeneration is a common condition as we age, many prefer the term disc desiccation (drying) as a disease often refers to an ab24px physiological process.  As the disc flattens it often bulges into the spinal canal and the bones of the spine (vertebra) become closer together. Both of these effects can add to narrowing of the canal. Another important cause of the symptoms of spinal stenosis is inflammation. Besides causing the mechanical changes of the spine, arthritis also causes inflammation and irritation of the joints, nerves and connective tissue of the spine. Inflammation causes pain and also more swelling of these tissues adding further to the symptoms associated with spinal stenosis. It is very important to note that when looking at back scans or X-rays, it is common to see evidence of some spinal stenosis. This does not mean that this will cause you any pain or problems.