Although canal stenosis is a relatively common condition, there are often misconceptions patients have after a diagnosis. For instance, many assume surgery is their only treatment option or they think they could have done something to prevent the problem in the first place.
Learning more about spinal narrowing
Read on to learn more about this condition and clear up some of the most common misunderstandings about the diagnosis.
- Misconception No. 1 — It can be prevented. Canal stenosis can sometimes be triggered by a sudden trauma that could have been avoided, such as a sports injury, but it is much more frequently a result of the natural aging process. It can also be inherited. Therefore it’s almost impossible to prevent spinal stenosis (narrowing), although exercising regularly, avoiding tobacco products and maintaining a healthy weight can help reduce the likelihood of spinal degeneration that leads to spinal stenosis.
- Misconception No. 2 — It is always painful. Canal stenosis can be asymptomatic; in fact, many people who have minor spinal narrowing do not even know it exists. Typically, this condition only becomes painful if the narrowed spinal canal compresses a nerve root or the spinal cord. At that point, a person might begin to experience pain at the site of the compression or pain that travels the length of the compressed nerve, along with muscle weakness, tingling or numbness in the extremities. Additionally, these symptoms can be consistent, or they can come and go. For some people with intermittent symptoms, avoiding certain triggers — such as twisting from side to side — can help minimize stenosis-related discomfort.
- Misconception No. 3 — Surgery is the only effective treatment. Many patients are able to control their canal stenosis symptoms with conservative therapies such as medication and stretching/strengthening exercises. Surgery is typically only recommended if the symptoms get worse with time despite nonsurgical treatment.
Minimally invasive treatment options
For more information about canal stenosis or to speak with one of our experts about the treatment options that are right for your specific needs, contact USA Spine Care.