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JAMA Patient Page
February 27, 2008

Spinal Stenosis

JAMA. 2008;299(8):980. doi:10.1001/jama.299.8.980

Spinal stenosis is a term used to describe a narrowing of the spinal canal, which contains the spinal cord and emerging nerve roots. It can occur in any portion of the spine. Because of limited space, changes in the bone (vertebral bodies) or soft tissues (spinal ligaments) can result in compression of the affected spinal cord and blood vessels. This narrowing can be congenital (genetic) or acquired (arthritis, trauma, bone disease, tumor) or a combination of both. Stenosis can be classified by location: central (involving the spinal cord) or lateral (affecting the nerve roots). Cord compression can also occur in patients with advanced cancer. The February 27, 2008, issue of JAMA includes an article about treatment options for cord compression due to metastatic cancer.

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