Canal stenosis refers to narrowing of the central spinal canal that can be caused by a range of spinal conditions, making this a relatively common diagnosis. The symptoms of canal stenosis can interfere with your quality of life, making it hard to do everything from get a good night’s sleep to being able to spend time with loved ones.
Doctors will usually begin treatment for this condition with a course of conservative treatment options and it’s important to be patient and work with your doctor to give yourself the best chance of finding lasting relief. To help you be an active and informed participant in your treatment, ask your doctor these questions as you’re starting out.
1. What is the extent of my canal stenosis?
One of the most important questions to ask your doctor is about the underlying cause of your spinal narrowing. Minor canal stenosis at one location has a better chance of responding to initial conservative treatment than severe spinal degeneration at multiple levels. The earlier you can get an accurate picture of this, the better.
2. What can I expect from this treatment?
It’s vital you have realistic expectations for your canal stenosis treatment before you start with a treatment plan. The goal of conservative treatment should be to manage pain in the short term while you take steps to improve your mobility and your overall health in the long term. Make sure you are being offered a comprehensive plan to improve your overall health that includes methods like physical therapy, posture improvement and weight-loss planning, if necessary.
3. What are some alternative treatments for canal stenosis?
Doctors will generally recommend the treatments they think will best suit a particular patient’s needs but it’s good to know what other alternatives may be available to you. By better understanding the spectrum of potential treatment approaches you and your doctor can more easily determine the right treatment for your situation. For example, while still outside the medical mainstream, more doctors are working with patients who are interested in exploring alternative medicine like acupuncture and herbal remedies.
4. When should I consider surgery?
Doctors will typically wait until conservative treatment has been attempted over a course of weeks or months before asking a patient to consider surgery for canal stenosis. If pain and other symptoms are severe and persistent and continue to interfere with the activities of daily life, while therapies that once brought relief are no longer effective, spine surgery may be the best course of action.
USA Spine Care offers minimally invasive spine surgery that is a safer and effective alternative to traditional open spine procedures used for canal stenosis treatment.^ We use a less than 1-inch incision to access the spine, allowing for an outpatient procedure that offers many advantages to our patients.
To learn more, reach out to our dedicated team of Spine Care Consultants today. We are happy to provide you with a no-cost review of your MRI or CT scan* to help you find out if you are a candidate for one of our procedures.