If you were recently diagnosed with canal stenosis, you might be wondering what you should do. Actually, you may not have to do anything. This relatively common condition develops when the space within the spinal canal becomes narrower. Usually, this effect is caused by the presence of tissue that doesn’t belong there, such as a bulging or herniated disc, bone spur or inflamed ligament — all of which are associated with age-related spinal degeneration.
Often, canal stenosis does not cause any problems or require treatment. However, if you’ve received this diagnosis from a physician, you were likely prompted to seek medical attention for a reason. Maybe you’re experiencing neck or back pain, muscle weakness or tingling sensations running down the length of one arm or leg. This could mean that overcrowding in your spinal canal has resulted in the compression of your spinal cord or a sensitive nerve root.
Typically, any discomfort related to canal stenosis will gradually worsen. For instance, you might find that you eventually need to take frequent breaks from standing and walking, or that leaning forward over a shopping cart or countertop is helpful.
How to ease canal stenosis pain
Canal stenosis pain can affect your quality of life. While there is no cure for this condition, there are some steps you can take to help you feel better. For instance, here are some things you can do:
- Modify your daily routine. Do not lift heavy objects, and take frequent breaks if you must stand, sit or walk for an extended period of time. In short, don’t do anything that hurts or makes you feel worse.
- Participate in a physician-approved exercise program. To ease your symptoms, your physician may recommend starting out with some simple, flexion-based (forward-bending) movements. Then, as you gain strength and endurance, you might want to incorporate some walking or swimming into your routine (if approved by your physician).
- Take medications as necessary. There are many over-the-counter remedies available that can be very effective for relieving canal stenosis symptoms. Your physician may prescribe stronger medications to help you through particularly painful episodes.
If you’re considering surgery
Sometimes, surgery can alleviate canal stenosis symptoms by addressing the source of the painful nerve compression. However, this course of action is generally considered only if an individual continues to experience very severe symptoms following several weeks or months of conservative treatment.
Although surgery is generally viewed as a last resort, the surgeons at USA Spine Care can perform several minimally invasive spine procedures for canal stenosis treatment that are a safer and effective alternative to traditional open spine surgery.^
If you’re currently reviewing your surgical options, you may want to find out whether you’re a candidate for minimally invasive outpatient surgery at USA Spine Care. To learn more, contact us today.