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.
Symptoms depend where along the spine stenosis has occurred.
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.