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Canal stenosis causes and treatments – as explained by the medical team at Laser Spine Institute St. Louis

Canal stenosis is a disorder related to the spinal canal, and it can be the result of several different spinal conditions. If you have been diagnosed with canal stenosis, it is important to understand the causes and treatment options that are available.

Understanding canal stenosis

Canal stenosis is defined simply as the gradual narrowing of the spinal canal, which extends from the base of the skull down to the lower back and houses the spinal cord. Nerve roots extend out through openings in the spinal canal, and when these roots or the spinal cord become compressed, canal stenosis is the result.

How will my physician make a canal stenosis diagnosis?

If you suspect you might be suffering from canal stenosis, it’s important to schedule an appointment with a physician who can make a formal diagnosis. A review of your medical history and a physical exam are the necessary first steps in the process, though an official diagnosis likely won’t be made until after you have undergone a diagnostic imaging procedure to pinpoint the location of your canal stenosis. MRI scans and CT scans are the most common procedures for diagnosing this condition.

What causes canal stenosis to develop?

As previously mentioned, canal stenosis can be caused by several different degenerative spinal conditions that can result in the narrowing of the spinal canal, including osteoarthritis, herniated or bulging discs, bone spurs, and more. Looking at the bigger picture, these degenerative conditions usually develop as the result of aging and the gradual deterioration of the spine, and can be influenced by risk factors such as obesity, alcohol and tobacco use and jobs that require frequent heavy lifting.

Recognizing canal stenosis symptoms

Canal stenosis can often go undetected and many people may never experience symptoms. However, if the spinal column has an obstruction that puts pressure on a spinal nerve root or the spinal cord, a variety of symptoms can occur. Common signals that canal stenosis might be present include localized pain at the site of the compression, pain that radiates down an affected nerve, tingling, numbness in the hands or feet and muscle weakness.

Several canal stenosis treatment options are available

For the treatment of canal stenosis, your physician will likely suggest a combination of nonsurgical options such as corticosteroid injections, pain-relieving medications, strengthening exercises, daily stretching and more. If these aren’t effective, alternative treatments such as therapeutic massage, yoga, chiropractic care and acupuncture may also help provide relief from your symptoms, but it is important to consult with your doctor when exploring these methods.

Treating canal stenosis with surgery

If weeks or months of conservative and alternative treatments haven’t reduced your canal stenosis symptoms and allowed you to return to normal activity, you and your doctor consider surgery as an option.

At Laser Spine Institute in St. Louis our board-certified surgeons+ perform minimally invasive surgery to treat a wide variety of degenerative spinal conditions, including canal stenosis. Contact us today for a no-cost MRI review* to find out if you are a candidate for our outpatient surgery.