Central canal stenosis can cause patients to experience symptoms of numbness, pain, stiffness, cramping, muscle weakness and more in the neck or back. Some patients are completely asymptomatic while others experience symptoms that become gradually worse over time.
The word stenosis comes from the Greek word stenos, or narrow, while canal refers to the central vertebral canal in the spine, through which the spinal cord runs. Therefore, central canal stenosis literally means narrowing of the spinal canal. The condition is also known as spinal stenosis, canal stenosis or central stenosis.
Spinal stenosis can occur as the result of a number of spinal conditions that cause the spinal components to become inflamed, enlarged or shifted out of place. Many of these conditions are caused by the natural aging process. The continuous pressure placed on the neck and back by movement and gravity stimulates bone to reinforce itself by depositing additional bone. Other factors, such as congenital spinal stenosis, other congenital defects, environmental stresses and spinal tumors, can also cause central canal stenosis.
Since many spinal conditions present with similar symptoms, accurate diagnosis requires a very thorough medical examination and diagnostic testing. Most diagnoses will be formed at the conclusion of one or more of the following:
- Notation of a patient’s complete medical history
- Physical exam to test for strength and reflexes
- CT scan
- Bone scan
- Blood tests
After accurate diagnosis of central canal stenosis, general physicians or back specialists develop a specific treatment plan for each patient. In some cases, this may include surgery. The minimally invasive outpatient procedures performed at Laser Spine Institute utilize small incisions and require a shorter convalescent period than traditional open spinal surgery. This allows some patients to resume less demanding activities in as little as two weeks. Contact Laser Spine Institute for more information about our procedures.