Symptoms and causes of canal stenosis

Canal stenosis is a condition in which the opening where the spinal cord passes through, called the spinal canal, becomes narrow. Because the spine is a complex system with many different bones, nerves and muscles all working together, the symptoms and causes of canal stenosis can vary greatly depending on the location where this condition occurs. Read on to learn about the specific symptoms you might experience if you are suffering from canal stenosis as well as the causes of this debilitating condition.

Canal stenosis symptoms

Canal stenosis may not produce any symptoms at all if the narrowing does not directly interfere with the spinal cord or its nerve roots. However, if the condition progresses and begins to compress a nerve root or the spinal cord, symptoms may begin to appear either sporadically or constantly and may worsen over time. In addition to back pain in the area of the spine that has narrowed, symptoms include pain, numbness, tingling and muscle weakness in the extremities.

The exact location of these symptoms will depend on where the narrowing is happening. Narrowing that affects a nerve root in the cervical spine (neck) may result in symptoms that affect the shoulders and one of the arms. More commonly, though, narrowing occurs in the lumbar spine (lower back) and affects a nerve root that travels down through one of the legs. In some cases, the spinal cord itself is compressed, rather than one of the nerve roots branching out of it, and symptoms are generalized throughout the entire body.

Canal stenosis causes

If you experience symptoms that may be related to canal stenosis or another spinal condition, it’s important to see your doctor to get an accurate diagnosis. You may be wondering how you got this condition in the first place. In fact, there are many different underlying causes of canal stenosis. Some of the most common causes include:

  • A herniated or bulging disc — which is a disc between the vertebrae that tears or bulges in one area
  • Spondylolisthesis — which is a vertebra that has slipped out of place
  • Bone spurs — which are small growths of bone on the vertebrae that may happen naturally as we age
  • Ligament or joint hypertrophy — which is the enlarging of the ligaments or joints of the spine
  • Trauma — which is damage to the spine, such as from a car accident, sports injury or another incident
  • Spinal tumors — which is a tumor whose growth may interfere with the spinal cord or displace vertebrae
  • Paget’s disease — which is a chronic bone disorder that causes excessive bone growth
  • Ankylosing spondylitis — which is a form of spinal arthritis

In addition, there are several hereditary conditions that may cause abnormal bone growth in the spine and lead to spinal narrowing.

How Laser Spine Institute can help

If you’ve been diagnosed with canal stenosis, your doctor will likely recommend one or more conservative treatments, such as over-the-counter pain medications, hot and cold compresses and corticosteroid injections. For many people, these options provide the relief they need. However, when symptoms persist or continue to worsen after several weeks or months, then surgery may be necessary.

If this is the case for you, then contact Laser Spine Institute to learn about the advantages of choosing minimally invasive spine surgery for your spine care needs. Our procedures are performed using a small incision that is muscle sparing, thereby offering patients a safer and effective alternative to traditional open spine surgery.^

Laser Spine Institute is a leader in minimally invasive spine surgery and has helped more than 75,000 patients find relief from pain caused by canal stenosis and other spinal conditions. Reach out to us today for a free MRI review* that will help determine if you’re a candidate for minimally invasive surgery at Laser Spine Institute.