How canal stenosis symptoms are diagnosed and treated

Spinal canal stenosis and related symptoms occur when the spinal canal becomes constricted and neural tissue is compressed. The condition typically occurs with aging and is unavoidable. Most spinal stenosis is completely asymptomatic; only when the narrowed areas apply pressure to the spinal cord and/or nerve roots do symptoms develop. Spinal stenosis, when symptomatic, affects the neck (cervical) and lower back (lumbar) regions more than the thoracic (middle) region of the vertebral column. Development of symptomatic spinal stenosis can be hastened by a number of spinal conditions, including osteoarthritis, bone spurs and herniated discs.

Canal stenosis symptoms

Patients only experience the symptoms of spinal canal stenosis when the nerves in the spine become compressed due to the narrowing of the canal. The symptoms of this condition can vary depending on its location:

  • Cervical spinal canal stenosis — Patients with spinal stenosis in the cervical (neck) region of the spine typically experience weakness, numbness and pain in the head, neck, upper back, shoulders and arms. In extreme cases, spinal cord demyelination (damage to the protective covering that surrounds nerve fibers in the spinal cord) can occur. In this case, symptoms may be profound, affecting balance and other vital functions.
  • Thoracic spinal stenosis — This rare condition occurs in the middle of the back, also called the thoracic region. Pain may be felt in the back, ribs, internal organs or the abdomen.
  • Lumbar spinal stenosis — Occurring in the lumbar (or lower back) region of the spine, this condition usually presents itself with pain in the lower back. Some patients also experience pain, numbness and weakness in the hips, buttocks, legs and feet.

Canal stenosis treatments

Many patients experience relief from their spinal canal stenosis symptoms with the use of conservative treatments. These nonsurgical therapies include pain medications, hot and/or cold therapy, bed rest and corticosteroid injections. Some patients also are able to relieve their pain and discomfort through the use of alternative therapies like acupuncture and chiropractic manipulation. Speak to your physician about creating a personalized conservative treatment plan.

If your symptoms fail to respond to these conservative and/or alternative therapies, your physician may recommend surgery to alleviate your spinal stenosis symptoms. Before you agree to highly invasive open spine surgery, “contact”/contact/ Laser Spine Institute to learn about our minimally invasive decompression and stabilization procedures. Our procedures are performed on an outpatient basis and are the clinically appropriate first choice over traditional open spinal surgery. Contact us today for a review of your CT scan or MRI report or to learn more about our minimally invasive procedures.