Severe canal stenosis refers to the extreme narrowing of the central spinal canal and the lateral foramina — the passageways that hold the spinal cord and spinal nerve roots, respectively. Because these canals host such sensitive aspects of the spine, severe spinal stenosis can lead to extreme nerve compression and pain.
The symptoms of severe canal stenosis include:
- Radiating pain
- Muscle weakness
The spinal narrowing may develop slowly as a result of aging, or more rapidly due to degenerative spine conditions, such as herniated discs, bone spurs or spinal arthritis, protruding into the empty space in the spinal canal.
Components involved with spinal stenosis
Most of the conditions that can lead to severe canal stenosis are associated with the natural aging and weakening of the spine.
Daily wear and tear takes a toll on the components of the spine, such as the discs, joints and vertebrae. As the spine deteriorates, these components can swell, wear down or be pushed out of alignment due to the daily pressure placed on the spine, thus reducing the space available for the spinal cord and nerve roots.
The components of the spinal anatomy generally associated with the development of stenosis include:
- Discs —Spongy cushions between individual vertebra made up of gel-like nucleus pulposus and a fibro-elastic outer wall
- Foramina — Openings on either side of vertebrae, through which nerve roots pass
- Facet joints — Points where vertebrae meet and hinge
- Laminae — Thin plates that extend and form part of the vertebral arch
- Ligaments — Fibrous tissues that connect bone to bone
Treating severe canal stenosis
Most of the time, symptoms associated with mild to moderate canal stenosis can be managed using conservative treatments, such as exercise, stretching, pain medication or behavior modification. However, if debilitating symptoms caused by severe spinal stenosis continue after months of conservative treatment, surgery may be recommended.
At USA Spine Care, we help patients approach spine surgery with peace of mind; our minimally invasive spine surgery offers a lower risk of complication and shorter recovery time^ than traditional open neck or back surgery.
For many causes of canal stenosis, our patients may be recommended a minimally invasive decompression surgery. However, for severe canal stenosis, a stabilization surgery may be the most appropriate treatment option. A decompression surgery removes only a small portion of the spine that is protruding into the spinal canal, while a stabilization surgery removes the entire damaged piece and replaces it with an artificial disc and/or bone grafts.
To see if you are a candidate for our minimally invasive spine surgery, contact USA Spine Care today and ask for a review of your MRI report or CT scan.