Spinal stenosis is a narrowing of one or more areas in your spine — most often in your upper (cervical) or lower (lumbar) spine. This narrowing can put pressure on your spinal cord or on the nerves that branch out from the compressed areas. Spinal stenosis can cause pain, numbness, tingling or cramping in your legs, back, neck, shoulders or arms; a loss of sensation in your extremities; and sometimes problems with bladder or bowel function. Spinal stenosis is most commonly caused by osteoarthritis-related bone damage.
Spinal narrowing doesn't always cause problems, but if the narrowed areas compress the spinal cord or spinal nerves, you're likely to develop inflammation of nerves that can cause signs and symptoms. These often start gradually and grow worse over time.