Spinal stenosis is a condition in which the spinal canal narrows and pinches the nerves, causing pain in the back and legs. While young people born with a small spinal canal can develop symptoms, spinal stenosis usually occurs as a person ages and is more prevalent in people over 50. Aging causes the ligaments that connect the spine and bones to become thick and calcified and the discs between vertebra to break down, tightening the spinal canal.
In addition to aging, spinal stenosis may be caused by:
Symptoms of spinal stenosis include pain, numbness, cramping, tingling, hot or cold sensations, difficulty walking, and a heavy or tired feeling and legs. More serious symptoms include problems controlling bowel movements or urination. Spinal stenosis may also cause a person to experience clumsiness and to fall frequently. Spinal stenosis symptoms often get worse over time and may be felt only on one side of the body. Symptoms can often be alleviated somewhat by bending forward.
Patients with spinal stenosis can receive leading-edge care at the Department of Neurosurgery at Brigham and Women's Hospital (BWH), where American neurosurgery was founded in 1913. Today, our multidisciplinary staff provides world-class, patient-focused medical care for spinal stenosis treatment and the entire spectrum of neurological diseases. At BWH, patients may consult with some of the best neurosurgeons in the country about procedures that include laminectomy, brain tumor surgery, spine surgery, epilepsy and seizure surgery, and peripheral nerve surgery.
Nonsurgical treatment for spinal stenosis at BWH may include:
Surgical options for spinal stenosis include:
In addition to neurosurgery, BWH offers comprehensive care for a number of medical conditions and procedures, including ankylosing spondylitis, cardiac surgery, a laparoscopic hysterectomy, weight loss surgery and more. Use the Find a Doctor tool on our website to search for physicians by specialty, such as a rheumatologist, or by location or language.
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