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The spine is a very complex system made up of many different parts that all come together to allow humans to walk upright, bend and twist. In addition, the components of the spine protect the spinal cord from injury like a cylinder of armor. Spinal stenosis occurs in the spinal column where the spinal cord, nerve roots and vertebrae are located. Simply stated, spinal stenosis is the constricting or narrowing of the spinal canal.
Spinal stenosis is either acquired or inherited. Those who inherit spinal stenosis, by nature, have a small spinal canal. On the other hand, when spinal stenosis is acquired, in most cases it begins slowly and develops over years. As time passes the space between the nerve roots, spinal cord and vertebrae is reduced. Typically, the narrowing of the spinal canal is a result of abnormal bone or tissue growth (sometimes both).
When spinal stenosis occurs nerves that branch out from the spine and sometimes even the spinal cord itself is squeezed which can irritate the nervous system. Once this happens spinal stenosis sufferers may feel pain, numbness or weakness in various parts of the body depending on the location of spinal stenosis.