The spinal canal is the passageway where the spinal cord and nerve roots reside. Spinal stenosis results when the canal is narrowed. The narrowing may result from disc bulges or herniations, thickening of the ligaments within the canal, movement of the vertebral bodies or osteophytes (bone spurs) growing into the canal. Whether an individual will develop stenosis cannot be predicted. It does not have a predisposition for any sex, race or ethnicity. Spinal stenosis can be developmental. Acquired stenosis is more common and generally affects people 60 or more years of age. Spinal stenosis may affect the cervical or lumbar spine. Symptoms include nerve compression leading to persistent pain in the buttocks, limping, lack of feeling in the extremities, or loss of bladder or bowel control. Often, patients have difficulty walking even relatively short distances because of leg symptoms of pain or weakness. This typically resolves with a brief period of rest.
Screening and Diagnosis
Your physician will perform a physical examination. Imaging studies such as an MRI or CT scan may also be ordered to help make the diagnosis.
Treatments for Spinal Stenosis
Non-surgical options include medication, physical therapy, aerobic conditioning and epidural injections. Indications for surgery include pain that fails to improve satisfactorily with non-surgical treatment. Surgical treatment generally consists of spinal decompression to enlarge the spinal canal and relieve the pressure on the spinal cord or nerve roots. It is important to discuss treatment options with your doctor in deciding which treatment, if any, may be best for you.
- Surgical Decompression