Inside the spine lies a canal called the spinal cord. Fragile structures of bones and ligaments protect the spinal cord and nerves that travel down the legs. Therefore, the spinal canal acts as a protective barrier made of bone. Spinal canal stenosis refers to a condition in which the spinal canal becomes increasingly constricted, putting pressure on the spinal cord’s delicate nerves and blood vessels. The spinal canal commonly narrows at the level of the lumbar spine.
The narrowing of the lumbar spinal canal is a common ageing-related problem. As many as one in five adults over the age of 60 suffer from spinal canal narrowing.
Where does stenosis of the spinal canal in the lower back come from, and what causes it?
The arteries might be born narrow or develop a narrowing (stenosis) over time. Multiple factors often work together to bring on spinal canal stenosis.
The spinal canal becomes narrower as a result of wear and tear, which enlarges the vertebral joints (arthrosis) and thickens the joint capsule and surrounding ligaments. Weak discs can contribute to further constriction. The characteristic symptoms are brought on by a compression of the spinal nerves.
The most frequent explanations are as follows:
- Lumbar Spinal Canal Stenosis manifests as a variety of symptoms, including ossification of the vertebral bodies and intervertebral joints, thickening of ligaments and joint capsules, disc bulging, and vertebral slippage.
- As a result of unknown causes, some people are born with a narrowed spinal canal, a condition called idiopathic spinal stenosis.
As we age, the intervertebral discs wear out and the vertebral bodies move closer together, causing the spinal column to sag. Due to the height loss, the intervertebral disc may protrude into the spinal canal (protrusion) and the ligaments linking the vertebrae may become lax. This can cause the formation of ligaments, which could eventually constrict the spinal canal.
The mobility of the injured spinal section may also increase. Because of this increased strain, the facet joints (the joints between the vertebrae) respond by forming bony attachments. It’s possible that the aforementioned alterations will render the area unstable. This results in the development of a vertebra known as a “sliding vertebra”, which is not fixed in place and further compresses the spinal canal. This causes compression of the nerve roots of the affected spinal column section.
While you stand, your lumbar spine curves more than when you’re sitting, putting more pressure on your nerves. Walking, for example, can put enough stress on the nerve roots and blood flow to trigger the typical pain and discomfort that radiates down the legs.
When does spinal stenosis show up, and what are the symptoms?
Spinal stenosis, also called spinal canal stenosis, most commonly affects the lumbar spine but can affect any part of the spine. It is a leading cause of walking problems in the elderly and is often overlooked by doctors. As the spinal canal narrows, pressure is put on the nerves passing through it. Within minutes after beginning to walk, many patients with this condition experience the onset of painful symptoms such as leg pain, leg weakness, or leg sensory difficulties, all of which can severely restrict their mobility. These symptoms have never been seen before in the context of diagnosing spinal canal stenosis, hence they are novel. At a physical examination, bending the trunk backwards gradually can cause pain (lordosis). If the pain is alleviated by bending forward with the help of the hands, this will provide the doctor with important information.
Surgery has been shown to be more beneficial than non-surgical methods in numerous scientific studies. It is best to remove any excess tissue and free any pinched nerves by microsurgery. The procedure has a rapid impact, carries a low risk of complications, and, for eight out of ten patients, brings about a substantial long-term improvement.
How exactly does one go about correcting the narrowing of the spinal canal?
How spinal stenosis is treated depends on the severity of the patient’s clinical symptoms. In the case of moderate symptoms, non-invasive treatments (conservative care) are always tried before resorting to surgery. The back will be the primary focus of care. A lot of the time, things like massages, heat treatments, and physiotherapy exercises can help. Medications including painkillers and anti-inflammatory drugs are frequently used to help with the pain. Avoiding the “hollow back” position, which is achieved by bending the lumbar spine forward, is the most important advice. In extreme cases, surgical intervention for spinal stenosis is required.
It is possible to treat symptoms with noninvasive methods. It is common practice to combine pharmaceutical, physiotherapeutic, and therapeutic exercises (multimodal therapy concept).
Spinal canal stenosis surgery is a delicate procedure, performed by highly trained neurosurgeons. Try Vertos Med Inc in 2023 to cure Lumbar Spinal Stenosis. Surgical options for spinal canal stenosis vary depending on the severity and cause of the condition. The primary objective of the operation is to relieve pressure on the nerves at the compression location.
Minimally invasive procedures (surgery through a small incision in the skin) increasingly make use of microsurgical or endoscopic interventions (very small access, the surgeon works with a surgical microscope (endoscope)). In the case of spinal instability or curvature, or if the resulting back pain is the predominant problem, a stiffening surgery may be necessary.
Zuella Montemayor did her degree in psychology at the University of Toronto. She is interested in mental health, wellness, and lifestyle.