Spinal disc prolapse & spinal stenosis

Lower back pain and leg pain are extremely common symptoms experienced with up to 5 million people seeing their G.P each year about back pain. There are many causes of back and leg pain including muscle pain, normal wear and tear and problems with the spine. Problems with the spine can sometimes be corrected with surgery, which is the situation in your case. 

The spine is made up of several bones running from your neck and down to the level of the hips as well as ligaments which help keep the bones in place. Also between each bone of the spine is a disc made of cartilage which acts as support and as a shock absorber. The spine acts to support your body weight and help with movement, as well as protect the spinal cord, which is a collection of nerves that carries information to and from the brain, helping with movement and sensation. If there is any pressure on the spinal cord, it can cause pain in the back and legs, and sometimes weakness of the muscles. Two of the causes of pressure are Spinal Stenosis and Disc Prolapse.
 

Spinal stenosis Illustration of spinal senosis

Spinal stenosis is the narrowing of the central spinal canal which is the space where the spinal cord runs or side root canals of the spine. This narrowing causes pressure on the nerves in the canal, leading to pain, usually in the lower back and legs. It is called Lumbar stenosis when this happens in your lower back region
Causes of spinal stenosis include:
* Age-related degeneration of the spine. The main cause of spinal stenosis is natural age-related wear and tear. 
This is often linked to osteoarthritis. As the vertebrae (bones) of the spine begin to weaken and deteriorate, 
they rub against each other. This causes bony growths called bone spurs, which can cause the spinal canal to 
narrow. 
* Changes in the ligaments of the spine. Like the bones of your spine, the ligaments in your back degenerate 
over time and can become stiff and thick. This loss of elasticity can have the effect of narrowing your spinal canal
 

Slipped (herniated) disc/ Disc Prolapse Illustration of a spine with slipped disc

A slipped or herniated disc is when the tough coating of a disc in your spine tears, causing the jelly-like filling to seep out. The torn disc can press on the surrounding nerves causing pain in your back and legs.
A slipped disc can happen at any age, but is more common in people between 20 and 40 years of age. It is usually caused by a combination of minor degeneration in the disc combined with trauma. The trauma can be minor, such as a cough or sneeze.
A slipped disc can press on the nerve sac in the spinal canal causing back pain, or on the surrounding nerves causing pain in the back and legs. It is known as lumbar disc prolapse when this happens in your lower back region.