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What Causes Spinal Stenosis?

Both my grandparents were told they have spinal stenosis. What is it and what causes it?

Your spine is made up of small bones or your vertebrae, disks, gel between the disks, and nerves, among other things. With spinal stenosis, the spaces in the spine get smaller and can press on the cord itself or on the nerves, causing pain. While it's found mostly in older people, especially women over 50 years old, young people can get it too.

Spinal stenosis can be caused by a spine that isn't formed properly or a degenerative condition, meaning the spine is breaking down. Diseases like arthritis can also cause spinal stenosis, as can trauma to the back from injuries or tumors, to name just a few.

Aravine Athivaraham, MD, and David Yen, MD, FRCS(C). Is Spinal Stenosis Better Treated Surgically or Nonsurgically? In Clinical Orthopaedics and Related Research. May 2007. Vol. 458. Pp. 90-93.