If your doctor has told you that you have congenital spinal stenosis, it means that you were born with a narrow spinal canal. Interestingly, most people with this condition are not aware of it until adulthood.
To understand what it means to have congenital spinal stenosis, first it helps to have a general knowledge of what spinal stenosis is and how it develops over time. As you age, it’s natural for your spinal canal to experience some narrowing. Bone spurs grow, discs bulge, ligaments thicken – all of these issues and more begin to take up space in your spinal canal. Eventually, this narrowing can press upon surrounding tissues and nerves, causing pain and other symptoms.
Most people with spinal stenosis have acquired spinal stenosis – which means they were born with a normal spinal column but the narrowing slowly progressed over time as a result of the normal aging process. The acquired form of spinal stenosis typically occurs in people over the age of 50.
For a person with congenital spinal stenosis, however, spinal stenosis symptoms can start much earlier. If you are born with a narrow spinal canal, even the slightest age-related changes can result in spinal stenosis symptoms. People with the congenital, or inherited, form of spinal stenosis may have symptoms in their 40s, 30s, 20s, or even earlier.
Congenital spinal stenosis is rare, and it cannot be detected before birth, nor can it be prevented. Additionally, its incidence crosses genders, ethnicities, and body types, but it tends to be more common in shorter people and in those born with achondroplasia dwarfism.
With congenital spinal stenosis, as well as acquired spinal stenosis, the narrowing of any part of the spinal canal places unusual pressure on spinal nerve roots, and painful symptoms usually are the result.
Symptoms of spinal stenosis, whether it is congenital or acquired, can include:
- Pain radiating to the shoulders, arms, buttocks, hips, legs, toes, and fingers
- Pain in the area where spinal stenosis originates, such as the lower back
- Leg cramping
- Numbness, stiffness, or loss of flexibility
Spinal stenosis can be located anywhere along the spinal column, but lumbar spinal stenosis – or spinal stenosis in the lower back – is the most common form of the condition. Cervical spinal stenosis, which occurs in the neck, is also quite common.
If you have been diagnosed with either acquired or congenital spinal stenosis, your physician may have recommended a number of conservative spinal stenosis treatments, including anti-inflammatory medications, rest, hot/cold therapy, or epidural steroid injections. If your case of spinal stenosis is severe, and your ability to work, exercise, and travel is limited, traditional back surgery may have been suggested by your doctor.
However, there is an alternative to traditional open back surgery, and that’s Laser Spine Institute’s minimally invasive, outpatient endoscopic procedures. Contact our medical experts today for a free review of your CT scan or MRI, and to learn more about our revolutionary procedures.