What is a central canal stenosis?

Central canal stenosis is the narrowing of the central passageway within the spine. This canal contains the spinal cord and nerve roots that branch out to other areas of the body. If the canal becomes narrow enough, it can place pressure on the nerves, disrupting the signals between the body and the brain. This problem can cause symptoms including difficulty walking, loss of motor skills, pain, numbness, weakness or a pins-and-needles sensation along the spine or in an extremity. Because symptoms can travel to unexpected areas of the body, it can be difficult for physicians to diagnose central canal stenosis.

Potential causes of canal stenosis

Causes of spinal canal stenosis vary widely because many degenerative spine conditions can reduce the amount of space in the spinal canal. Some examples include:

  • Bone spurs
  • Bulging or herniated discs
  • Thickening of a spinal ligament called the ligamentum flavum

There are other causes of spinal canal stenosis. For example, some people are born with a narrowed spinal canal, while others might develop tumors that constrict the canal space. Patients often have to undergo several types of testing and imaging scans so their physicians can determine the underlying cause of their spinal stenosis.

Central canal stenosis treatment options

Depending on the location of the spinal narrowing and a patient’s specific diagnosis, treatment options vary. Many people find relief from their pain and other symptoms through a nonsurgical management program that involves making adjustments to their lifestyles, completing certain types of exercises, controlling pain with medication and other methods. Finding the right combination of these options can take weeks or months of trial and error, but most people find a way to continue with their lifestyle. For the others who aren’t able to find adequate relief through conservative means, surgery may be recommended.

If you have been diagnosed with central canal stenosis and are investigating your surgical options, the minimally invasive spine surgery performed at Laser Spine Institute offers several advantages over traditional open back procedures. For instance, our outpatient procedures require less than a 1-inch incision and they typically allow patients to be up and walking within hours of surgery.^

To find out if you’re a candidate our minimally invasive outpatient surgery, contact Laser Spine Institute today. We can offer a no-cost MRI review* to help you see if one of our procedures can help you find relief from your neck or back pain.