Prevalence and Impact of Stenosis on Health
Narrowing of the spinal canal called stenosis is common in the older adult. Stenosis occurs most often in the cervical (neck) and lumbar (low back) spine. In this study, researchers look at the number of people affected by stenosis. The impact these symptoms have on general health is also reported.
Almost 6,000 healthy men 65 years or older who could walk unassisted were included. Patients were from six academic medical centers around the U.S. Everyone filled out a lengthy survey. Questions were asked about medical history and back and joint health. Frequency, intensity, and duration of neck or back symptoms were reported.
One-third of the men reported neck pain in the last year. Most of the men (63 percent) had at least one episode of low back pain (LBP). Men with neck pain were six times more likely to also have LBP compared with men who had no neck pain.
Numbness, tingling, and weakness symptoms typical of stenosis were common. General health status was lower in men with stenotic neck or back pain. They were also more likely to have diabetes.
The authors conclude that LBP with leg pain (sciatica) is a significant problem in men aged 65 years and older. The same can be said about neck and arm pain in this same group. This group had a large number of white, highly educated and healthy men. It's likely that the number of men with these problems is even higher in the general population.
Molly T. Vogt, PhD, et al. Prevalence of Symptoms of Cervical and Lumbar Stenosis Among Participants in the Osteoporotic Fractures in Men Study. In Spine. June 1, 2006. Vol. 31. No. 13. Pp. 1445-1451.