Risk Factors for Spinal Stenosis

Published on May 3, 2021 by The Spine Center

Spinal stenosis is a narrowing of the spinal canal that places pressure on the spinal nerves, causing pain, tingling, and other symptoms. Spinal stenosis usually develops in the lumbar spine (i.e., lower back) or cervical spine (i.e., neck).

The caring, knowledgeable spine experts at The Spine Center of Louisiana diagnose and treat spinal stenosis at our Baton Rouge, Walker, and Prairieville, Louisiana offices. Here’s what they’d like you to know about who’s at risk for spinal stenosis and how to reduce the impact.

Risk factors

There are a number of risk factors for developing spinal stenosis.

You’re age 50 or older

Aging is the prime culprit behind most cases of spinal stenosis. Simply going about your life by bending and flexing your spine causes wear-and-tear injuries that can lead to arthritis. 

Arthritis in your spine can lead to inflammation and narrowing in the spinal canal that presses on your spinal nerves. When the cartilage and tissue that protect your vertebrae degrade because of arthritis, your bones produce outgrowths called bone spurs as a means of self-protection. However, bone spurs can cause stenosis, too.

Even though arthritis makes your back painful to move, exercising is one of the best ways to keep your spine healthy. Strengthening the muscles and ligaments that support your spine with physical therapy and other forms of training helps take the pressure off your spine and ease stenosis.

You’re female

Women are more likely than men to develop spinal stenosis. Even if you don’t have back or neck pain now, start making lifestyle changes that lower your risk for spinal stenosis, such as:

  • Improving your posture
  • Lifting with your legs, not back
  • Supporting your spine while you sleep
  • Exercising regularly
  • Strengthening your core

Of course, these interventions help prevent spinal stenosis or reduce its symptoms no matter which sex you are. If you currently suffer from back or neck pain, our experts work with you to find exercises that keep your spine healthy and reduce pain without putting undue strain on your back or neck.

You experienced spinal trauma

Any type of injury or surgery to your back, neck, or spine increases your risk for spinal stenosis. When your body suffers trauma, the repair process can cause temporary swelling that may become chronic if you don’t completely heal, or if you continue to irritate the area.

Back and neck injuries can also damage cartilage and other protective tissues, leading to arthritis and bone spurs that narrow the spinal canal. Your injury or surgery may also change your posture or cause a misalignment in your spine that presses on your spinal nerves.

Whether you felt pain at the time of the accident or not, you may benefit from a physical therapy or exercise program that strengthens your core and supports your spine. Resistance training, stretching, and walking or swimming are all helpful forms of exercise to manage or prevent spinal stenosis.

Back or neck pain or stiffness could be an early sign of spinal stenosis. For an evaluation, diagnosis, and treatment, call us at 833-774-6327 to make an appointment. Or, book your appointment online with our convenient form. 

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