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What is Stenosis? In terms I can understand

AnonymousUserAAnonymousUser Posts: 49,082
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:19 AM in Spinal Stenosis
Stenosis,What exactly is it?

I have that listed on my last MRi that there is signs of Stenonsis, but because my surgeon is a butt hole, he doesn't explain these things to me, so I am no longer seeing him again. Can someone give me the cliff not version of what Stenonsis is and what does it do? I did have a PLIF in Feb., but sill have issues and am most likely facing surgery on my L4. Thanks for your replies.



  • What it is is the pitts! Stenosis is the narrowing of your bones. Imagine a tire, with the hole in the center (this is your discs) If you started filling in the center of the tire with foam (or marshmallows if your prefer them)the hole gets smaller and smaller. Running through this hole is your spinal cord. As the hole gets smaller, it starts pinching on the cord, causing pain. This can happen to any of the bones of your body. The foramin, part of the vertebrae, gets stenosis. Nerves run from the spinal cord, out through the foramin, and to your body. When the holes get smaller, the pain gets bigger. It can cause severe pain, if left untreated.

    Are you still on disability? I hope so, as it's very hard to cope with pain and it's limitations, as well as worry about the bills. Not being able to do things you used to do, go where you went before, and do activities you liked can be very hard to accept. Sometimes adding an anti-depressant to your medications can help. They also help your pain meds work better. Good luck.
  • I knew that stenosis was narrowing of the spine but your description really helps me understand it a little better.
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  • Great explanation Maggie. My surgeon never told me about this, I found out on my MRI report.

    I guess I would prefer Marshmallows (hehe)

    But man that really explains why everything hurts. This is after the PLIF I had, I had no idea that I was going to have more issues. But the L4 is still herniated. Also I started getting new symptoms, my toes are starting to go numb again along with all the pain on my right back,hip,leg, calf, toes. My surgeon say's my injury is on my left, but for the last 1.5 years I always presented on the right side, so he doesn't know what my problem is. I'm so grateful to be getting a new surgeon. I'm so scared. So what stops the canal from getting more narrow?

    Yes I was just approved for LTD, but it was actually a big blow for me because I worked 2 jobs and they are deducting the WC from my one job from the LTD from my corporate job. Actually the year I was injured I worked 3 jobs. It's not fair and I am out now $1000 and change a month. Which after paying bills leaves me $38 a week! But I can't go there right now. I did apply for food stamps and SSD/SSI, so we'll see what happens there. If i can get medicaid, then I will not have to pay $400 a month for my COBRA health benefits, that will be a Godsend!

    Thank you so much for the spiney version of Stenosis and you are right it is the pitts to put is nicely!
  • I think is we took any "normal" off the street and gave him/her and MRI of the cervical and lumbar spines we'd find all sorts of problems such as DDD and stenosis. We have the unfortunate luck of knowing everything about ours whether or not it's symptomatic. My MRI read like the who's who of cervical problems however my neuro was only really concerned with a few of them. When they actually got in there, many problems presented, such as impinged nerves, that never even showed up on the MRI at all. It's sometimes hard to tell what's actually doing the hurting until it's fixed.

    I'm not trying to diminish anyones problems in any way. Surgeons are going to fix what need to be fixed (we hope) and aren't going to operate on something that isn't causing the symptoms (again, we hope).

    Pebbles I hope you get a much better doc this time. As you know I had a bad experience too and went through a surgery that, umm, didn't go so well. Don't lose faith, your time is coming!

  • Ms.Pebbs,what up?I'll try to explain.
    Stenosis is not filling up the hole of disc simply b/c the disc does not look like a tire.From what I've learned reading my 13 MRI's so far.stenosis could be "central canal" or "fora- minal".The first one occurs when something moves into the spi- nal canal and compresses the spinal cord.It could be bulging disc,thickened Ligamentum Flavum,bone spurs,etc.
    Foraminal stenosis is the narrowing of the openings thru which the nerve roots are exiting the spinal cord.Reasons are disc herniation,bone spurs,etc.
    Griff is right that majority of probably have stenosis.Some of them Mother Nature has gifted with wider spinal canal,and they are lucky.I'd be glad if someone add more info or,correct me if I'm wrong.
    Hope it helps!Cheers,G.
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  • Spinal stenosis is Narrowing of the spaces in the spine, resulting in compression of the nerve roots or spinal cord by bony spurs or soft tissues, such as disks, in the spinal canal.

    Christina :)
  • Thankyou everyone for all your different comments. I have learnt so much . This sight is incredible . People helping people. I have damage to my Sciatic nerve and have had two major Spinal opperations at L4 and L5/S1, both with hardware and Lamiectomy plus Artificial Disc at L4. Forever is a long time and nothing happens fast in recovery , it is fustrating . Some relief however , is a MIRACLE come true. Keep up the HOPE Guys.
  • Foraminal narrowing is just another way of saying foraminal stenosis, right? My MRI report refers to my disc bulging with a protrusion and "foraminal narrowing" and "effacement of the thecal sac." Am I right in thinking that this means 1) The disk bulge is making the foramen narrower and 2) it's pressing on the central canal?
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