Different Types of Spinal Stenosis

Different Types of Spinal Stenosis


Spinal stenosis is a painful condition which affects the spine. Generally it can develop in any region of the spine, although it is most usually found in the lumbar, central or cervical regions, namely the upper, central and lower parts, but even within these broad categories, there are different types of spinal stenosis.


Foraminal Stenosis: 


This is the most common type of stenosis which can occur at any part of the spine ie in the upper, central or lower part and it is caused when a nerve root is compressed when leaving the spinal canal, through a hole known as the lateral foramen. The compression is caused by a bone spur, disc herniation or even scar tissue or a fragment of cartilage. The compression of the nerve root is from where the pain originates.


Lumbar Spinal Stenosis: 


Lumbar spinal stenosis occurs when the spinal canal narrows and compresses the nerves, which travel from the lower back into the legs. It can sometimes be found in young people but is more usually a condition caused by the ageing process, when the facet joints degenerate and the inververtebral discs also suffer wear and tear. With age the discs become far less spongy and may protrude into the spinal canal. 


The most common age for developing this form of spinal stenosis is aged over 60.

Degenerative spondylolisthesis is commonly associated with lumbar spinal stenosis. This condition is caused by a vertebra slipping on top of another and is the direct result of the facet joints suffering with osteoarthritis. Treatment is similar to that for lumbar spinal stenosis.


Cervical stenosis:


This is the second most common form of stenosis and generally happens if the spinal canal narrows and consequently compresses the spinal cord. Cervical stenosis refers to the upper part of the back, as opposed to lumbar, which is in the lower region of the spine.


Again this is usually a direct result of the ageing process. As a person grows older, the discs lose their sponginess and their role as a type of shock absorber becomes more difficult. Simultaneously the ligaments and bones that form the spine may thicken and become less flexible. The result is that the spinal canal narrows and if the spinal cord is compressed pain will follow.


Although it is referred to as caused by ageing, the most common age to develop this condition is between the ages of 40 and 60, so it is more of a problem for people in late middle age/early old age, than it is for people who are of retirement age onwards.


Interestingly this condition is also more likely to occur in males as opposed to females, although it is not clear why this is the case, although a common theory is that men are more likely to lift heavier weights, resulting in the discs becoming more prone to wear and tear and the spine itself becoming thicker and less flexible. When the wear and tear is significant and the spine is thicker, the stenosis can then develop.




Contact us
close slider

    I give consent to Spinal Healthcare processing data about myself and my medication condition. To review our privacy policy please click here.