CausesBy Mayo Clinic staff
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|Bone spurs on spine|
While some people are born with a small spinal canal, most spinal stenosis occurs when something happens to reduce the amount of space available within the spine. Causes of spinal stenosis may include:
- Overgrowth of bone. Wear and tear on your spinal bones can prompt the formation of bone spurs, which can grow into the spinal canal. Paget's disease, a bone disease that usually affects adults, also can cause bone overgrowth in the spine.
- Herniated disks. The soft cushions that act as shock absorbers between your vertebrae tend to dry out with age. Cracks in a disk's exterior may allow some of the soft inner material to escape and press on the spinal cord or nerves.
- Thickened ligaments. The tough cords that help hold the bones of your spine together can become stiff and thick over time. These thicker ligaments can bulge into the spinal canal.
- Tumors. Abnormal growths can form inside the spinal cord, within the membranes that cover the spinal cord or in the space between the spinal cord and vertebrae.
- Spinal injuries. Car accidents and other major trauma can cause dislocations or fractures of one or more vertebrae. Displaced bone from a spinal fracture may damage the contents of the spinal canal. Swelling of adjacent tissue immediately following back surgery also can put pressure on the spinal cord or nerves.
- Questions and answers about spinal stenosis. National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases. http://www.niams.nih.gov/Health_Info/Spinal_Stenosis/default.asp. Accessed April 19, 2012.
- Goldman L, et al. Cecil Medicine. 24th ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Saunders Elsevier; 2012. http://www.mdconsult.com/das/book/body/191371208-2/0/1492/0.html#. Accessed April 19, 2012.
- Frontera WR, et al. Essentials of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation: Musculoskeletal Disorders, Pain, and Rehabilitation. 2nd ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Saunders Elsevier; 2008. http://www.mdconsult.com/das/book/body/208746819-6/0/1678/0.html. Accessed April 19, 2012.
- Cervical stenosis and myelopathy. North American Spine Society. http://www.knowyourback.org/Pages/SpinalConditions/DegenerativeConditions/CStenosis_Myelopathy_Radiculopathy.aspx. Accessed April 20, 2012.
- Levin K. Lumbar spinal stenosis: Treatment and prognosis. http://www.uptodate.com/index. Accessed April 20, 2012.