Canal stenosis can be a source of debilitating pain that can limit time spent with family or friends, work, or leisurely activities. Fortunately, there is a wide range of effective treatment options that can help alleviate this condition. Knowledge of the symptoms of canal stenosis can assist in overcoming them and resuming daily activities.
Canal stenosis is a term used to describe the narrowing of the central spinal canal. This specific form of spinal stenosis is often compared to foraminal stenosis, which is the narrowing of the small openings between vertebrae that allow nerve roots to exit.
The central spinal canal serves as a tunnel, consisting of bony arches on the rear of the vertebrae, that protects the spinal cord as it travels from the brain to the rest of the body. The spinal canal is critical when it comes to protecting the central nervous system. If canal stenosis develops, it can cause disruption of the spinal cord which can result in pain, neuropathic symptoms, and mobility problems.
Canal stenosis can occur as a result of traumatic injury or repetitive motion injuries, though the most common cause is the natural aging process. Over time, the body loses its water content, making tissue more brittle and less elastic. This process tends to affect the spinal anatomy, specifically the facet joints and rubbery spinal discs.
As these parts of the spine break down as a consequence of conditions such as degenerative disc disease and spinal arthritis, it can cause displacement in the spinal column. By nature, the spine is so tightly packed that even the slightest displacement of anatomy can result in the narrowing of the spinal canal.
Canal stenosis is not painful on its own but it often results in compression of the spinal cord which can induce any of the following:
- Neck pain
- Lower back pain
- Shooting pain in the extremities
- Tingling and numbness
- Muscle weakness
When experiencing any of these symptoms, seeing a doctor for prompt diagnosis and treatment options is essential. Canal stenosis pain can worsen over time due to the progressive nature of spinal degradation. To diagnose spinal stenosis, a thorough evaluation, including a medical history review, physical examination, and diagnostic imagery must be performed.
Upon diagnosis, initial nonsurgical treatment will generally begin with:
- Getting rest as needed
- Taking over the counter medication
- Alternating cold compression/heating pad
- Physical therapy
- Practicing a spine healthy lifestyle
- Receiving a corticosteroid injection
If weeks or months of conservative treatment do not bring relief for a good quality of life, surgery may be recommended as an alternative. The goal of this procedure is to access the spinal column at the point of narrowing and remove the damaged material causing pain and other symptoms. The specific procedure may vary depending on the location of the spinal stenosis and the extent of the spinal degradation.
Laminotomy is a common minimally invasive procedure, which involves removing a small portion of bone open a segment of the spinal canal. This helps decompress the spinal canal and relieve nerve compression.
Other cases may require a fusion/stabilization procedure if there is significant degradation and instability in the spinal column. These procedures are performed on an outpatient basis with minimally invasive techniques.
Reach out to BEST Health System to Learn More About Canal Stenosis Relief
At BEST Health System, we’re committed to helping patients find relief from degenerative spine conditions such as canal stenosis. From pain-relieving injections to minimally invasive outpatient surgery, our multidisciplinary team can help you develop a treatment plan that is right for you.
If you have experienced any of these symptoms or recieved a diagnosis and need treatment, BEST can help. Take the first step towards relief today.
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