A guide to canal stenosis surgery
Canal stenosis is the narrowing of the space through which the spinal cord and nerve roots run. This space can become smaller from a variety of causes, including a bulging disc protruding into the canal or a thickened ligament running through the canal. Some people are even born with spinal canals that are narrower than average, placing them at even greater risk for developing symptomatic canal stenosis.
Surgery is typically reserved for patients who have severe symptoms and have tried conservative methods to manage their canal stenosis without experiencing much success. The following article may be helpful in determining the stage when surgery may be necessary as well as what method works best for your condition.
When to think about canal stenosis surgery
Based off of your specific symptoms, you and your physician can work together to find a combination of treatments that give you the relief you need to complete everyday tasks. These can include conservative methods such as pain medications, anti-inflammatories (NSAIDs), muscle relaxants, range-of-motion exercises, physical therapy or steroid injections. If you are still experiencing disruptive symptoms after you have exhausted all of your options, surgery may be a way to find meaningful relief.
Types of canal stenosis surgery
Spinal canal stenosis surgery is performed to relieve pressure on the spinal cord or nerve roots within the spinal canal. This can be done in several ways, including:
- Discectomy. The removal of part or all of a damaged vertebral disc, which stops the disc material from compressing the spinal cord or neighboring nerve roots. This is often accompanied by a spinal fusion procedure to improve spinal stability.
- Spinal fusion. The process of using a bone graft to join two vertebrae together, which adds stability to the spine. This process is generally performed after a discectomy.
- Laminectomy/Laminotomy. The removal of a portion of a vertebra to provide more room for the spinal cord or a compressed nerve root and relieve the associated symptoms.
Canal stenosis surgery can either be performed through traditional open spine methods or by using a minimally invasive approach like the ones offered at Laser Spine Institute. Our outpatient procedures are a safer and effective alternative to traditional open back surgeries^ and have helped more than 75,000 patients find pain relief since 2005.