L4-L5 canal stenosis — overview and treatment options

Canal stenosis in the L4-L5 level of the spinal column is narrowing that develops in the lumbar (lower) region of the spinal canal between the fourth (L4) and fifth (L5) lumbar vertebrae. The spinal canal is the central passageway in the spinal column that protects the spinal cord as it travels from the brain to the rest of the body, carrying sensory and motor information.

Narrowing in the spinal canal is often caused by displaced spinal anatomy — like an arthritic bone spur or a herniated disc — that extends into the nerve pathway. As the narrowing progresses, it can compress spinal nerves. The resulting symptoms, including leg pain, buttock pain, numbness and tingling, can have a severely debilitating effect on your life.

Why is canal stenosis common at the L4-L5 level?

The lumbar spine is subjected to a large amount of pressure because it has to support the weight of the upper body while being flexible enough for basic movement. Years of everyday activity, combined with age and other factors like weight and posture, can cause the parts of the spine to wear out. This leads to the underlying conditions that cause canal stenosis. Because canal stenosis is primarily caused by age-related degeneration, most diagnoses are made in older adults.

How is L4-L5 canal stenosis treated?

Initial treatments for canal stenosis — no matter which section of the spine it develops in — are typically conservative and include the following options:

  • Corticosteroid injections
  • Lifestyle changes like losing weight or quitting smoking
  • Periods of rest
  • Medication
  • Physical therapy

In cases of L4-L5 stenosis where symptoms are not improved by conservative treatments, patients may require surgery to increase space in the spinal canal. Traditional open spine procedures typically involve a large muscle-tearing incision, overnight hospitalization and a long, sometimes painful, recovery period.

If you have been recommended for surgery for your condition but have concerns about the risks and difficulties involved, reach out to Laser Spine Institute. We can help you learn more about our minimally invasive spine surgery, which involves a less than 1-inch incision, an outpatient procedure and a shorter recovery period compared to traditional open neck or back surgery.^

To learn more, contact our dedicated team of Spine Care Consultants for a no-cost MRI review* to determine if you may be a candidate for one of our minimally invasive procedures.