What are the symptoms and treatment for canal stenosis?

Canal stenosis is the narrowing, or stenosis, of the central spinal canal which protects the spinal cord as it travels from the brain out to the rest of the body. Narrowing of the spinal canal occurs when displaced spinal anatomy, like a damaged disc or a bone spur, constricts this already tight space. Canal stenosis can cause painful symptoms that require treatment by putting pressure on the spinal nerves and interfering with their normal functioning. Learning more about canal stenosis symptoms and treatments can help you find relief and get back to an active lifestyle by helping you become more involved with your care.

Canal stenosis symptoms

Many patients with canal stenosis can have the condition for years before symptoms begin to present themselves. This is because canal stenosis itself does not necessarily cause patients to feel pain. Rather, symptoms occur when canal stenosis results in spinal nerve root or spinal cord compression. There are two broad categories of symptoms related to spinal nerve compression:

  • Radiculopathy. This set of symptoms is caused by compression of a spinal nerve root. It may involve pain, numbness or tingling in the extremities, cramping and weakness. These symptoms can be felt all the way to the fingers and toes, and are usually unilateral, or occur on only one side of the body. Radiculopathy is most common in the lumbar (lower) spinal region, affecting the lower body, and the cervical (upper) spine, where it affects the neck and arms.
  • Myelopathy. These symptoms occur when there is compression of the spinal cord, usually in the cervical (upper) spine. Symptoms can affect a larger portion of the body, and can include pain, difficulty walking, reduced motor skills or paralysis.

Canal stenosis treatment

Many patients with canal stenosis are able to find relief from their symptoms with the use of conservative treatments. These can include:

  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications, such as ibuprofen
  • Prescription narcotic pain medication
  • Physical therapy
  • Stretching and exercise
  • Epidural corticosteroid injections
  • Lifestyle changes like weight management, posture improvement and quitting smoking

If you are still experiencing symptoms of canal stenosis after a full course of conservative treatment, your doctor may recommend surgery. At Laser Spine Institute, our surgeons perform minimally invasive spine surgery to treat canal stenosis and other degenerative spine conditions while reducing many of the risks and difficulties associated with traditional open spine surgery.

Contact Laser Spine Institute today to learn more about the benefits of our outpatient procedures and to receive a no-cost MRI or CT scan review* to determine if you are a potential candidate.