Spinal canal stenosis
Guide to the treatment of narrowing of the vertebral canal
Both congenital causes and changes in the disc due to age and stress can constrict the spinal canal. This narrowing of the spinal canal is called spinal canal stenosis. It is marked by radiating back pain, numbness in the limbs and increasingly reduced mobility.
You as a patient have many questions after the diagnosis of spinal canal stenosis. The experts at Schön Klinik are happy to advise you. Our doctors are specialised in back diseases brought on by wear and tear. Whether conservative treatment or surgery – we will find the right treatment for you.
Causes & symptoms
What is spinal canal stenosis?
The spinal canal, also called vertebral canal, is located within the spine. The spinal cord and the nerves run through it. In case of narrowing (stenosis) of the vertebral canal, the nerve and the spinal cord are compressed. The result – fatigue and pain in the legs, which increases noticeably when you walk.
Causes: How does spinal canal stenosis develop?
Spinal canal stenosis can be either congenital or acquired. In congenital spinal stenosis, the bony bridges (pedicles) between the vertebral bodies and the vertebral joints along the entire spine are too short. Problems begin to develop at just a young age. Acquired spinal stenosis occurs primarily in the lumbar spine and the cervical spine. The main cause is age-related wear and tear of the discs. One of five persons over age 60 has this kind of narrowing.
Symptoms: Signs of spinal canal stenosis.
The symptoms of spinal canal stenosis can vary. Vertebral canal stenosis is characterized in particular by the following symptoms:
Spinal canal stenosis in the lumbar spine
- Your legs feel heavy, painful and numb
- You often have to stop when walking
- Bending over forward relieves pain, so you tend to bend over when walking or support yourself on a shopping cart.
Spinal canal stenosis in the cervical spine
- You find it more difficult to button your clothes or grasp small objects
- Your handwriting changes
- You often drop objects you are holding
Signs of paralysis and sensory disorders are generally rare and are signs of high-grade stenosis. Please consult a specialist as soon as possible if these symptoms occur.
Diagnosing spinal canal stenosis requires experience.
There are many symptoms of spinal canal stenosis and they can also fit other diseases of the spine. With thorough diagnostic tests, we can find the cause of your problems and initiate the appropriate treatment.
Thorough examinations are the basis.
Every diagnosis at Schön Klinik begins with an extensive talk and a thorough physical examination. For example, we provoke the symptoms you describe by carefully bending your trunk. If you have severe pain, we can confirm the diagnosis with imaging methods and precisely determine the location and extent of the narrowing.
For patients with back pain
For patients with back pain, Schoen Clinic London will offer a consultation, diagnostic tests and treatment plan all in one visit.
Imaging methods. MRI or CT make the spinal canal stenosis visible
Narrowing of the vertebral canal can be best detected in magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). In this procedure, we can optimally visualise the spinal canal and the neural structures such as the spinal cord and nerve roots that pass through it. For patients with a pacemaker, we use computer tomography (CT).
In individual cases, we also measure the nerve conduction velocity in the spinal cord (evoked potentials) or in the nerves (electromyography) in order to diagnose spinal canal stenosis.