How doctors diagnose and treat canal stenosis

Canal stenosis describes narrowing of the central spinal canal that protects the spinal cord as it runs from the brain to the rest of the body. This narrowing can have a range of underlying causes but is often caused by degenerative spine conditions like osteoarthritis or herniated discs. The symptoms of canal stenosis can include localized pain in the neck or back, muscle weakness in the extremities, or radiating pain, tingling or numbness. These symptoms can be extremely disruptive to your life, affecting relationships, your job and your sleep.

Whether you have dealt with this condition previously or you’re researching potential causes of your chronic pain, learning more about canal stenosis diagnosis and treatment can be an important step toward relief. The following information can take some of the anxiety out of working with your doctor to get the help you deserve.

Canal stenosis diagnosis

A canal stenosis diagnosis should be made by a qualified medical professional, such as your primary care doctor, who can take the steps necessary to determine whether this or another condition is responsible for your pain and other symptoms. These steps can include:

  • A review of your medical history
  • Questions about your symptoms and the treatments you’ve already attempted
  • A physical examination to find the source of symptoms
  • Movement tests to check for range of motion
  • Diagnostic testing such as taking an X-ray, MRI, or CT scan to pinpoint the location and severity of spinal narrowing

Canal stenosis treatment

Once you have received a canal stenosis diagnosis, it is important to explore all of the treatment options available including both conservative and alternative choices. Conservative treatments typically suggested by doctors include over-the-counter pain medications, hot and cold therapy and physical therapy, while many patients see positive results from lifestyle adjustments such as losing weight through exercise, quitting smoking and reducing alcohol consumption.

Alternative treatment methods, such as chiropractic care, acupuncture and yoga, may also be effective treatment methods for some patients who have received a canal stenosis diagnosis. However, not all patients will find relief from their symptoms through conservative or alternative treatment methods, and sometimes spinal surgery becomes an option. The minimally invasive spine surgery at Laser Spine Institute is a safer and effective alternative to traditional open spine procedures, offering our patients a streamlined, outpatient experience with a lower complication rate compared to traditional open spine procedures.

If you would like to find out if you are a candidate for minimally invasive, outpatient surgery at Laser Spine Institute, contact us today and ask for your no-cost MRI review.*