What Is a Spinal Stenosis?
The spine is made up of 33 bones called vertebrae and divided into four regions: cervical (neck), thoracic (mid back), lumbar (lower back), and sacral. The vertebrae surround the spinal cord, a thick band of nerve tissue that runs through the spine, providing 360o of protection. Spinal stenosis is a disease marked by narrowing of the spine around the spinal cord or at the foramen, openings in the spinal vertebra through which the spinal cord branches to the hands, legs, torso, and other locations in the body. Narrowing can occur centrally and at the foramen simultaneously. Stenosis most commonly occurs in the cervical and lumbar regions of the spine because these areas experience the most flexibility and movement. The extra motion can place more pressure on the spinal cord or nerve roots over time.
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