Stenosis means narrowing. In spinal stenosis, the canal through which the spinal cord and nerve roots run becomes narrow. This results in abnormal pressure on the spinal cord and nerves causing a myriad of symptoms including pain, leg cramping, numbness, tingling and weakness. Often the pain starts and is made worse with walking and is relieved when you stop walking or sit down. When the spinal cord is being compressed symptoms may include imbalance, or difficulty with fine movements of your hands. In severe case you may experience abnormalities with your bowel or bladder function. These symptoms from spinal cord compression are referred to as myelopathy and can be irreversible.
Spinal stenosis or narrowing of the spinal canal can be asymptomatic or symptomatic. The canal may be narrowed from bulging/herniated discs, a shift two adjacent vertebrae (spondylolisthesis), bone spurs, enlarging of the facet joints, or buckling/enlarging of the spinal canal ligament (ligamentum flavum hypertrophy). Any one or a combination of these things can contribute to spinal stenosis.