Canal stenosis is a common spinal condition that develops when the space within the central spinal canal, which protects the spinal cord, becomes narrowed. This often happens as a result of age-related conditions like bulging or herniated discs, bone spurs or thickened ligaments. Because the spine supports most of the body’s weight, even routine activities like walking, standing, bending and lifting can take a significant toll over time, causing the moving parts of the spine to wear out.
Canal stenosis does not necessarily cause symptoms unless the reduction in space leads to compression of the spinal cord or an exiting nerve root. Depending on the location of the compression, symptoms like pain, weakness and numbness can affect the lower back, legs, neck, shoulders or arms. The discomfort typically comes on gradually. Eventually you can reach a point where frequent breaks from standing and walking are required or you must lean forward over a countertop or shopping cart.
Five common ways to treat canal stenosis pain
If you’re experiencing pain associated with canal stenosis, your ability to work and enjoy leisure activities can be affected. While the underlying causes of spinal degeneration are not reversible, there are steps you can take to help you feel better. Partner with your primary care doctor or spine specialist to develop a personalized treatment plan that can include:
- Engaging in an appropriate exercise program. Regular physical activity is very important. For optimal benefits, most doctors recommend you set a goal to exercise at least three times a week for a minimum of 30 minutes per session. To ease your canal stenosis symptoms, you may be recommend to start slowly with some simple, forward-bending movements. As you build strength and endurance, you might try to incorporate walking or swimming into your routine if your doctor agrees.
- Modifying your daily activities. You should avoid lifting heavy objects as well as standing, sitting or walking for prolonged periods of time. In short, don’t do anything that triggers or worsens your discomfort.
- Taking medications. Speak with your doctor about pain relievers and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). Many over-the-counter remedies are available that can help the pain caused by canal stenosis. If needed, your doctor can possibly prescribe stronger medications for when pain flares up.
- Asking your doctor about alternative and complementary therapies. As more and more people find relief through options like chiropractic manipulation, massage therapy and acupuncture, these therapies are becoming increasingly accepted in the mainstream medical community and might be worth a try. Just make sure you keep your doctor informed of any new treatments you’re attempting.
- Surgery. A surgical procedure may be recommended to relieve canal stenosis symptoms by directly addressing the underlying cause of the painful nerve compression. However, surgical intervention is usually discussed only after an individual continues to experience severely reduced function or debilitating pain following conservative treatments attempted over the course of several weeks or months.
Reach out to USA Spine Care
If surgery has been recommended for you, you should know traditional open spine surgery may not be your only option. The board-certified surgeons+ at USA Spine Care specialize in performing minimally invasive outpatient spine surgery designed to relieve back pain and other symptoms caused by conditions like canal stenosis. To learn more about the many advantages we offer to patients, contact us today.
We offer a no-cost MRI review* to determine if you are a potential candidate for one of our procedures.