Canal stenosis causes and symptoms

Canal stenosis causes symptoms like pain, tingling, muscle weakness, numbness and more when the nerves of the spine are affected by the narrowed spinal canal, which holds the spinal cord. If you’re experiencing symptoms that you believe are due to canal stenosis, your first step is to see your primary care physician for a diagnosis. Once your physician has determined if you have canal stenosis and what caused it, he or she can suggest treatment.

Canal stenosis causes

Canal stenosis can be caused by a number of different injuries or abnormalities in the spine. Any minor change in the spinal anatomy that obstructs the normal, tube-like shape of the spinal canal can cause it to narrow. Some of these changes include:

  • Bone spurs – raised bumps of bone that sometimes occur along the vertebrae
  • Herniated disc – a spinal disc that has torn and its gel-like inner material is leaking out
  • Spondylolisthesis – a vertebra that has slipped forward or backward
  • Spinal tumors – abnormal growths that invade the spinal canal, sometimes displacing vertebrae or discs

Canal stenosis symptoms

Canal stenosis is not inherently painful. If the narrowed canal doesn’t have an effect on any other components of the spine, you may not experience any symptoms. But when the narrowed canal compresses a nerve root or the spinal cord, you could experience symptoms like:

  • Pain
  • Reduction in motor skills; clumsiness
  • Paralysis
  • Difficulty walking
  • Numbness, tingling or a hot or cold feeling
  • Traveling or radiating pain

These symptoms can occur in the neck, back, legs and even as far as the fingers and toes, as an impinged spinal cord or nerve root tends to send sensations down the length of the nerve into other areas of the body.

If your symptoms do not improve after a few weeks of getting adequate rest, taking over-the-counter pain medication, using hot or cold packs or attempting other at-home remedies, you should see your primary care physician. He or she may prescribe stronger anti-inflammatory drugs, refer you to a physical therapist or suggest lifestyle changes, such as losing weight or adjusting your posture. If these conservative treatments don’t offer the relief you need to return to your normal activities, surgery may be an option.

To receive a no-cost MRI review* and discover if you’re a candidate for Laser Spine Institute’s minimally invasive, outpatient surgery, please contact us today. Our procedures are alternatives to open spine surgeries that are often recommended for the treatment of canal stenosis.