Spinal narrowing FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions about the Narrowing of the Spinal Canal

Laser Spine Institute, which successfully performs more minimally invasive, outpatient procedures each month than any other spine surgery provider in the world, offers the following answers to frequently asked questions about spinal narrowing:

Q: What is spinal narrowing (spinal stenosis)?
A: Spinal narrowing, also known as spinal stenosis, is a condition in which the space within spinal canal, which houses and protects the spinal cord and its nerve roots, is invaded by surrounding soft tissue and/or bone, and becomes constricted.

Q: What causes spinal narrowing?
A: Spinal narrowing can result from age-related degeneration of the spinal components as well as overuse, injury or a genetic condition. Common conditions that can contribute to spinal narrowing include disc herniation, facet joint osteoarthritis and bone spurs. All of these conditions can lead to the presence of damaged disc material or excess bony growths within the spinal canal or the intervertebral foramina, the openings through which nerve roots exit the spinal column. As a result, the amount of space available for nerve roots and the spinal cord is reduced, which can lead to neural compression and irritation.

Q: What are the symptoms?
A: Spinal narrowing, in and of itself, does not usually exhibit symptoms. Discomfort typically arises only when the reduction in the already limited amount of space within the spinal canal or foramina leads to the irritation or compression of a nerve root or the spinal cord. This can create pain, numbness, tingling, muscle spasms and muscle weakness in the neck, torso and limbs. The areas in which symptoms present depend on the location and function of the affected nerves.

Q: What are some treatment options?
A: Once a diagnosis of spinal stenosis is confirmed, a physician will likely recommend one or more conservative, non-surgical treatments that are designed to reduce neural compression and alleviate pain. Many patients experience improvement in their symptoms after following a course of limited rest, physical therapy, pain medications, anti-inflammatories, muscle relaxants and/or hot and cold therapy. In most cases, the improvement precludes the need to consider surgical intervention.

Q: Will I need surgery?
A: In the event that conservative treatment does not provide the pain relief you require, you can contact Laser Spine Institute to learn about our state-of-the-art, minimally invasive procedures that are safer and effective alternatives to traditional open spine surgery.