Spinal Stenosis is a condition that causes the spinal canal to become narrow, resulting in increased pressure on the nerves and, in some cases, the spinal cord itself. The disease is typically divided into two types: lumbar spinal stenosis (LSS) and cervical spinal stenosis (CSS). Lumbar spinal stenosis is much more common, affecting between eight percent and 11 percent of the population in the U.S.  Cervical spinal stenosis is estimated to occur in about five percent of Americans. 
Although it’s less common, cervical spinal stenosis is potentially more serious because it can cause the spinal cord to become squeezed, resulting in paralysis. The spinal cord does not travel through the lumbar spine, and lumbar spinal stenosis, while painful and debilitating on its own, is not associated with cord damage. 
A few people may be born with an exceptionally narrow spinal canal which leads to stenosis, but in most cases, the condition develops with degenerative changes associated with aging. Degenerative changes like osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis are the most common causes of spinal stenosis, but other possible causes include: 
- rheumatoid arthritis
- bone spurs
- herniated or compressed discs
- thickened ligaments
WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS?
In some people, spinal stenosis causes no symptoms, even though the condition may show up on x-ray. When the disease does cause symptoms, they usually begin gradually and become worse over time. Some of the most common symptoms of spinal stenosis include: 
- aching or pain in the neck or lower back
- weakness, tingling or numbness in the leg, foot, arm or hand
- leg cramps that may be relieved when leaning forward
In severe cases and especially when the spinal cord is involved, symptoms can also include:
- loss of bladder or bowel function
- sexual dysfunction
- significant pain, weakness or loss of feeling in one or both legs
Treatment for spinal stenosis begins with conservative approaches, including the use of pain and anti-inflammatory medications and modification of activity to relieve stress and help open the spinal space.
Epidural injections of cortisone can also help, especially when oral pain medications do not provide adequate relief. Injections provide satisfactory levels of relief in about half of all patients.
Exercise is also important for maintaining strength and mobility, but it is not intended to relieve symptoms of spinal stenosis. When pain limits movement, working with a physical therapist to learn special techniques to reduce pain may be helpful.
When conservative approaches do not provide relief and symptoms begin to take a toll on everyday activities and quality of life, surgery may be considered to widen the spinal canal. The procedure most often used is called laminectomy. In this procedure, a portion of the affected vertebra is removed to provide additional room and eliminate pressure on the nerves. Laminectomy for decompression of the nerve is effective in about eight out of 10 patients, but results tend to deteriorate over time as the spine continues to experience additional age-related changes.
Laminectomy is often followed by spinal fusion surgery with or without bone grafting to help stabilize the spine in the area of the laminectomy. Surgery does carry specific risks, including nerve deterioration, rupture of the spinal membrane and blood clots.