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Canal stenosis surgery for professional baseball player David Wright

As New York Mets fans may know, then-player David Wright was diagnosed with spinal canal stenosis. Although surgery isn’t always necessary to address the symptoms of spinal stenosis, it may be recommended after other treatments are exhausted. In all likelihood, Wright will be advised to address his symptoms through a combination of nonsurgical measures before canal stenosis surgery is considered. In Wright’s case, years of conservative treatments, including physical therapy, were attempted before ultimately deciding to undergo spine surgery in the lumbar (lower) region of the spine.

What is canal stenosis?

Canal stenosis refers to the narrowing of the space through which the spinal cord and nerve roots run down the length of the spine. This narrowing may be caused by the genetic tendency to have a narrower spinal canal than normal, repeated twisting or turning motions that wear down the spine, such as those seen on the baseball field, or the normal degeneration of the spine due to aging. Spinal stenosis can affect a large area of the spine or just one section, and it has the potential to cause a range of symptoms if it places pressure on the spinal cord or nerve roots. When the spinal cord is compressed, numbness, weakness or pain can affect all areas below the affected level of the spinal cord. Nerve root impingement can cause localized pain, as well as radiating symptoms that affect the areas associated with the particular root. Canal stenosis has ended the careers of many athletes due to the negative effect it can have on the flexibility of the spine and pain it can cause.

In order to address these symptoms, most patients are advised to undergo a conservative course of treatments, which may include:

  • Making lifestyle changes, like losing weight, incorporating low-impact exercises and quitting smoking
  • Taking medications to manage pain
  • Completing physical therapy sessions
  • Applying heat and/or ice to the affected area of the spine

When to consider canal stenosis surgery

These approaches are often helpful for athletes who attempt them, often improving symptoms without the need for more invasive intervention. Some people, however, find that conservative measures do not provide them with sufficient relief from their symptoms, and their doctors may advise them to consider canal stenosis surgery. In addition to traditional, open spine canal stenosis procedures, there are also minimally invasive options. Minimally invasive canal stenosis surgery, such as the procedures performed at USA Spine Care, is intended to address the narrowing of the spinal canal and nerve compression while taking a muscle-sparing approach that allows for an outpatient procedure.

If you want to learn more about the minimally invasive outpatient canal stenosis procedures performed by the board-certified surgeons+ at USA Spine Care, contact us today.

We’re happy to provide a free MRI review* to determine if you may be a candidate for our procedures.

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