My older brother just emailed me that his low back pain is from spinal stenosis. I'm having some back pain, too. Is this a hereditary condition? Should I get checked?Spinal stenosis refers to the narrowing of the space inside the spinal canal where the spinal cord is located. It is linked with age, rather than genetics.
As we age, certain anatomical changes cause a decrease in the spinal canal. First, the discs may thin out or even degenerate completely. Without this cushion between the bones, the vertebra itself starts to collapse a little.
The pressure of one vertebra against another causes a ridge of bone to form around the outside edge of the vertebra. This is called lipping. At the same time, the broad ligament that runs down along all the back of the vertebrae starts to thicken and press into the spinal canal.
The spinal joints may form bone spurs or an overgrowth of bone or cartilage called hypertrophy. All of these changes have the potential to narrow the space inside the spinal canal. The result is pain and other neurologic symptoms from pressure on the spinal cord or spinal nerves.
There are many possible causes of low back pain. If your pain does not go away within 10 days to two weeks, contact your doctor. If your back pain is accompanied by fever, sweating, or blood in your urine or stool, then see a doctor right away.
References:Michael E. Geisser, PhD, et al. Spinal Canal Size and Clinical Symptoms Among Persons Diagnosed with Lumbar Spinal Stenosis. In Clinical Journal of Pain. November/December 2007. Vol. 23. No. 9. Pp. 780-785.
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