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Canal stenosis — definition, causes and treatments

Understanding canal stenosis and its definition, causes and treatments can be a complex task. Any number of ailments occurring in the neck or back can cause this condition, and the treatment will vary from patient to patient and from underlying cause to underlying cause. Those who experience the symptoms most commonly associated with canal stenosis — localized pain in the neck or back, and radiating pain, numbness, weakness and tingling that affects the upper or lower body — should speak with their physician to confirm a diagnosis of canal stenosis prior to starting any treatment regimens.


The word “stenosis” is derived from the Greek word “stenos,” which means “narrow.” “Canal” refers to the central vertebral passageway through which the spinal cord travels from the base of the brain into the lower back. Canal stenosis refers to the narrowing of the central vertebral canal that houses the spinal cord. The condition is referred to by various names, such as spinal stenosis, central spinal canal stenosis or central stenosis.


Spinal stenosis can be caused by a number of conditions, many occurring as a result of the natural aging process. With aging, the body undergoes extensive changes as it adapts to years of wear. The neck and back are especially susceptible to change over time because they are responsible for bearing the weight of the head and body and facilitating a great deal of movement. Anatomic structures can collapse under this constant pressure. The following age-related conditions may cause the anatomical elements of the spine to shift out of place or become inflamed:

  • Herniated discs
  • Bulging discs
  • Degenerative disc disease
  • Bone spurs
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Osteoporosis
  • Spondylolisthesis

Any patient who experiences fevers, partial paralysis or difficulty with bladder control should seek immediate medical attention.


Some patients can be treated for spinal stenosis with non-surgical, conservative therapies, such as corticosteroid injections, bed rest and medications. If these conservative treatments prove ineffective, surgery may become an option. The surgeons at USA Spine Care can treat many cases of spinal stenosis using outpatient, minimally invasive procedures. Contact USA Spine Care for more information about these procedures or to learn more about canal stenosis, its definition, causes and treatments.

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