SPINAL STENOSIS

WHAT IS SPINAL STENOSIS?

Spinal stenosis occurs over years and results in thickening of the ligaments, formation of bone spurs, and deterioration of the disc material. As a result, the spinal canal narrows and pinches the nerves. Bone spurs may also press on the spinal cord.

medical illustration of spinal stenosis

SYMPTOMS OF SPINAL STENOSIS

Symptoms depend where along the spine stenosis has occurred.

  • CERVICAL STENOSIS

    Cervical Stenosis (neck) may cause the patient to feel neck or arm pain, numbness and weakness in both hands, loss of coordination when walking or during other activities, or muscle spasms in the legs.

  • LUMBAR STENOSIS

    Lumbar Stenosis (lower back) produces lower back pain and leg pain. Surgery may be necessary if lumbar stenosis limits normal activity, causes leg weakness and/or numbness, makes standing or walking difficult, or affects your bladder or bowel control.

  • THORACIC STENOSIS

    Thoracic Stenosis (mid – upper back) symptoms include back pain, radiating pain into the legs that hurts more when you walk than rest, or change in bowel or bladder function.

Endoscopic view of lumbar spine post decompression
Endoscopic view of lumbar spine post decompression

TREATMENT

Surgery is typically recommended when there are signs that the spinal cord is compressed or there is significant risk that the spinal cord may become damaged. Surgery is necessary if neurological symptoms increase (i.e. a patient has difficulty with balance or walking).  Fully endoscopic decompressive laminectomy, in which the laminae or roof of the vertebrae are removed to create more space for the nerves, is one possible surgical approach. In cervical or thoracic spinal stenosis, discs and spurs can be removed from the front of the neck or spine. Spinal fusion is rarely performed in this procedure.