How Can You Identify the Different Types of Spinal Stenosis?

Neck Pain

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  • The types of spinal stenosis vary depending on the placement of the compression in the spine. The variations of the affected areas usually dictate which parts of the body will suffer from the symptoms of the compression
  • Spinal stenosis can also be divided into three groups, depending on the location of the spinal compression in a cross section of the spine

The types of spinal stenosis vary depending on the placement of the compression in the spine. The variations of the affected areas usually dictate which parts of the body will suffer from the symptoms of the compression. The types of spinal stenosis depending on the vertical placement are:1

  • Cervical spinal stenosis. This type of spinal stenosis is caused by the pinching of the spinal cord in the neck. The most common symptom of cervical spinal stenosis is the difficulty in doing fine motor skills, such as writing and buttoning up a shirt. Numbness in the neck and shoulders may also be felt when the compression happens in this part of the spine.2
  • Thoracic spinal stenosis. This is the rarest type of spinal stenosis. Together with the common symptoms of spinal stenosis, the limited ability to rotate the torso has also been observed. Because of the thinner structure of the thoracic part of the spine, spinal compression in this area can put you at a higher risk for paralysis.3
  • Lumbar spinal stenosis. Lumbar spinal stenosis is the spinal cord compression that happens in the lower back. The symptoms of this type are observed in the lower part of the body, with patients eventually having difficulties in walking, standing or bending over.4

Different Types of Spinal Stenosis Based on Nerve Exit Compression

Spinal stenosis can also be divided into three groups, depending on the location of the spinal compression in a cross section of the spine. These divisions are as follows:5

  • Foraminal stenosis. This occurs when a bone spur in the foramen impedes the passage of the spinal nerve on the sides of the spine.
  • Central stenosis. This happens when the compression happens in the central spinal opening, pinching the thecal sac or the cauda equina.
  • Far lateral stenosis. Compression can happen to individual nerves in the back of the spine, which are called the neuro-foramen. This is often caused by bone spurs, herniated or bulging discs.

In cases of severe spinal stenosis, patients can suffer from extreme pain in the legs. Because of this, patients affected by its symptoms may suffer from complete inability to move around without constantly suffering from leg pain.

Difference Between Congenital Spinal Stenosis and Acquired Spinal Stenosis

While the most common type of spinal stenosis is the acquired type, there is also a possibility for babies to be born with the condition. Congenital spinal stenosis is caused when a person is born with a narrower spinal canal than normal, limiting the opening for the spinal cord to pass through.

Congenital spinal stenosis has been observed to worsen with age, and is more prevalent in men than in women, a complete reversal with the prevalence of acquired spinal stenosis in the general population, which is diagnosed in a higher percentage of women.6

Acquired spinal stenosis refers to the gradual development of this condition. This type normally develops during middle age and is the result of various bone and joint disorders. It often starts with the desiccation and flattening of the vertebral discs, which leads to numerous structural complications. The most common causes for acquired spinal stenosis include osteoporosis, rheumatoid arthritis and spinal injuries caused by the weakening of the bones.7

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Types of Spinal Stenosis

Spinal Stenosis Treatment

Spinal Stenosis Surgeries

Spinal Stenosis Prevention

Spinal Stenosis Exercises

Spinal Stenosis Diet

Spinal Stenosis FAQ

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