Spinal canal stenosis and related symptoms occur when the spinal canal becomes constricted and neural tissue is compressed. The condition typically occurs with aging and is unavoidable. Most spinal stenosis is completely asymptomatic; only when stenotic areas apply pressure to the spinal cord and/or nerve roots do symptoms develop. Spinal stenosis, when symptomatic, affects the neck and back more than the thoracic region of the vertebral column. Development of symptomatic spinal stenosis can be hastened by a number of spinal conditions, including osteoarthritis, bone spurs and herniated discs.
Canal stenosis symptoms
Patients only experience the symptoms of spinal canal stenosis when the nerves in the spine become impinged due to the narrowing of the canal. The symptoms of this condition can vary depending on its location:
- Cervical spinal canal stenosis – Patients with spinal stenosis in the cervical (neck) region of the spine typically experience weakness, numbness and pain in the head, neck, upper back, shoulders and arms. In extreme cases, spinal cord demyelination can occur. In this case, symptoms may be profound, affecting balance and other vital functions.
- Thoracic spinal stenosis – This rare condition occurs in the middle of the back, also called the thoracic region. Pain may be felt in the back, ribs, internal organs or the abdomen.
- Lumbar spinal stenosis – Occurring in the lumbar (or lower back) region of the spine, this condition usually presents with pain in the lower back. Some patients also experience pain, numbness and weakness in the hips, buttocks, legs and feet.
Canal stenosis treatments
Many patients experience relief from their spinal canal stenosis symptoms with the use of conservative treatments. These non-surgical therapies include pain medications, hot and/or cold therapy, bed rest and corticosteroid injections. Some patients also are able to relieve their pain and discomfort through the use of alternative therapies like acupuncture and chiropractic manipulation. Patients whose symptoms fail to respond to these conservative and/or alternative therapies may consider surgery to alleviate their pain. The procedures performed at Laser Spine Institute have helped many patients find relief from spinal stenosis. Contact Laser Spine Institute for a complimentary review of your CT scan or MRI or to learn more about our minimally invasive procedures.