What is Spinal Stenosis and what are the causes?

Spinal Stenosis is a narrowing of spaces in the spine which causes pressure on the spinal cord and/or nerves. Among those affected by this condition, about 75% have spinal stenosis of the lower back. In most cases, the narrowing of the spine associated with stenosis compresses the nerve root, which causes pain down into the leg. There are many causes of spinal stenosis, including aging, arthritis, and injury as well as overuse of the back.


With age, the body’s ligaments can thicken. Spurs may develop on the bones and project into the spinal canal. The cushioning disks between the vertebrae may begin to deteriorate along with the associated joint surfaces.


The two forms of arthritis that may affect the spine are osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. Both cause a laying down of tissue which compromises the spinal canal space and can create pressure in and around the spinal cord.


If the spinal canal is too small at birth, symptoms of spinal stenosis may show up in a relatively young person. Structural deformities of the involved vertebrae can cause narrowing of the spinal canal.

Instability of the spine or spondylolisthesis

When one vertebra slips forward on another, that can narrow the canal.

What are the symptoms of spinal stenosis?

Spinal stenosis may begin as back pain as well as pain into the legs. Stenosis may irritate the nerves that control the muscles and nerves in the legs and result in pins and needles, numbness and tingling into the legs. A typical presentation is a person who says their back pain is relieved when they are at the supermarket and holding onto a cart, a little bent over.

How is Spinal Stenosis Diagnosed?

Spinal stenosis can be difficult to diagnose because its symptoms can be caused by other conditions. X-rays are the first diagnostic imaging to be done and then an MRI or CT scan (computed tomography) can confirm the diagnosis.

How is Spinal Stenosis Treated?

Spinal stenosis can be treated in several ways. Treatment options include: Changes in posture – Those with spinal stenosis may find that flexing the spine by leaning forward while walking relieves their symptoms. Lying with knees drawn to the chest can also offer some relief. These positions open up the space and make it easier for people with stenosis to walk easier.

Chiropractic Manipulative Therapy

Cox Technique is a specific chiropractic treatment which flexes and “distracts” the spine in a way that relieves the pressure on the spine. This therapy when preceded by electrical muscle stimulation and heat as well as Graston Technique, which helps to break down adhesions in the surrounding muscles and fascia is effective in pain relief with spinal stenosis.

MLS Laser Therapy can offer immediate relief for stenosis sufferers. This unique laser offers 2 synchronized wavelengths that relieve pain so that you can return to activities of daily living.

Rehabilitative Exercises

Specific flexion type exercises are an important part of a daily routine in keeping the spine flexible when treating stenosis.