8 Risk Factors for Spinal Stenosis

8 Risk Factors for Spinal Stenosis

Feb 02, 2024
Spinal stenosis is a progressive condition leading to back pain, limited mobility, and, for some, disability. Learning about its risk factors and changing them whenever possible lowers your chances of developing spinal stenosis.

Your daily activities place an incredible amount of stress on your spine, stress that leads to the degenerative changes responsible for spinal stenosis

You can’t prevent these natural changes, but our Alliance Spine and Pain Centers team can still help you lower your chances of spinal stenosis. How? By explaining the following eight risk factors and helping you create a personalized plan to mitigate your risks.

1. Growing older

Your spine works hard to support your body’s posture, balance, and movement. This daily stress takes a toll, causing the discs, vertebrae, cartilage, and other spinal structures to degenerate as time goes on.

Age-related degeneration results in the conditions responsible for spinal stenosis, including:

  • Herniated discs
  • Degenerative disc disease
  • Facet joint osteoarthritis
  • Thickened ligaments
  • Bone spurs

You can’t do anything about your age. However, you may still avoid spinal stenosis by making changes to lower your risk factors.  

2. Following a sedentary lifestyle

Though spinal stenosis can affect any part of your spine, it often occurs in your lower back (lumbar spine). Why? Because the lumbar spine supports bending and rotating movements while carrying the weight of your upper body.

Your spine depends on strong ligaments and lumbar and abdominal muscles (your core muscles) for support and stability. You’re more vulnerable to developing spinal stenosis if you don’t engage in regular exercise to keep these supportive tissues in good shape.

3. Sitting for prolonged periods

Spending too much time sitting puts you at risk for spinal stenosis even if you have strong core muscles. Sitting places excessive pressure on your lower spine, causing problems like herniated discs and spinal stenosis.

If you can’t avoid sitting for your job, you can mitigate this risk factor by taking regular breaks to stretch and walk around and using good posture while sitting.

4. Having poor posture

Good posture makes you look more confident and helps you move gracefully, but that’s not its most important role. You need good posture to keep your spine well-aligned and protect the spine’s natural curves.

Spinal alignment reduces the strain on muscles and joints and ensures that the stress is equally shared among the vertebrae. When each spinal structure supports its share of the stress, the entire spine functions better and stays healthy.

Poor posture throws the spine out of alignment, forcing one or a few vertebrae, joints, discs, and muscles to take on more stress than they can handle. That accelerates degeneration and causes spinal stenosis.

5. Carrying excess weight

Excess weight in your tummy and upper body adds to the stress and pressure on your spine. Carrying extra weight also changes the way you sit, stand, and move, affecting your posture and raising the risk for spinal stenosis.

6. Experiencing spinal trauma

Spinal injuries can set the stage for long-lasting problems contributing to spinal stenosis, such as chronic inflammation, scarring, damaged discs, and misaligned vertebrae.

One of the best ways to avoid long-lasting problems is to meet with us to get adequate pain relief, so you can participate in physical therapy.

7. Developing underlying health conditions

Several health conditions affect your chances of developing spinal stenosis, including:


High blood sugar damages the discs and other spinal tissues, putting you at risk for spinal stenosis.

Ankylosing spondylitis

Ankylosing spondylitis is an inflammatory condition that makes vertebrae fuse together.

Spinal tumors

Non-cancerous (benign) and cancerous (malignant) tumors affect spinal strength and stability.

Paget’s disease

Paget’s disease affects the ability of bones to replace old tissue with new, healthy bone cells, leading to fragile, misshapen bones in the spine, skull, pelvis, and legs.

8. Inheriting a spinal condition

Though inherited spinal problems associated with spinal stenosis are uncommon, some people are born with a small spinal canal or conditions affecting the growth and structure of the vertebrae and other spinal structures.

Alliance Spine and Pain Centers specializes in advanced treatments that effectively relieve spinal stenosis pain. Call the office or request an appointment online to begin your journey toward a more active life.