Types of spinal stenosis

The types of spinal stenosis are often categorized by the region of the spine in which the condition has developed. In general, spinal stenosis describes a narrowing of the spinal canal, which houses the spinal cord and nerve roots. When the limited space within this area is constricted through the degeneration of a portion of the spinal anatomy, nerve compression can result if it puts extra pressure on the spinal cord or a nerve root.

Spinal stenosis often stems from age-related spinal degeneration, which can crowd the space within the spinal canal with herniated disc material, bone spurs or swollen ligaments. In rarer cases, some people are born with narrow spinal canals that are more prone to symptomatic spinal stenosis at a relatively young age.

Spinal stenosis types by location

Spinal stenosis can be categorized many different ways. For example, by location:

  • Cervical spinal stenosis — in the cervical (upper) region
  • Thoracic spinal stenosis —in the thoracic (middle) region
  • Lumbar spinal stenosis — in the lumbar (lower) region

Spinal stenosis can also be categorized by the part of the spinal column that is experiencing narrowing, these types include:

  • Central canal stenosis — in the main spinal canal, which protects the spinal cord
  • Lateral recess stenosis — in the back of the spinal canal where the nerve roots first branch off
  • Foraminal stenosis — in the small openings that allow nerve roots to exit the spinal column

All forms of spinal stenosis can lead to chronic pain and debilitating symptoms that require professional treatment.

Treatment options for spinal stenosis

Many spinal stenosis patients respond well to conservative treatments such as rest, pain relievers, anti-inflammatories, hot and cold therapy, low-impact exercise and massage. However, in some cases, surgery might be required to relieve persistent or debilitating pain, but that alternative does not necessarily involve a highly invasive operation.

The surgeons at Laser Spine Institute perform minimally invasive surgeries to address the underlying causes of painful nerve compression. Our outpatient procedures help patients find relief and are a safer and effective alternative to traditional open neck and back surgery.^ To learn more about minimally invasive treatment options for the various types of spinal stenosis, contact Laser Spine Institute today.

Our team will be pleased to perform a free MRI review* to help determine if you are a candidate for our outpatient procedures.

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