Degenerative changes in the spine can constrict the spinal canal, leading to the development of back and leg pain, numbness in the legs and reduced mobility.
At Schoen Clinic, our team of spinal experts specialise in the diagnosis and treatment of all aspects of back diseases, brought on by wear and tear, or other causes. Whether conservative treatment or surgery – we will always advise on the right treatment for you.
What is spinal stenosis?
In lumbar spinal stenosis, the spinal nerve roots and/or cauda equina become compressed by the narrowing of the spinal canal. In cases of spinal stenosis, this narrowing can be the result of overgrowth of bone, or 'bone spurs' (osteophytes) protruding into the spinal canal. This is made worse by the buckling of the ligamentum flavum and/or bulging of the discs.
What are the symptoms of spinal stenosis?
When nerves are compressed, they can produce symptoms of pain, numbness or tingling in the area of the leg that the particular spinal nerve supplies. In rare cases, they can produce severe pain and even weakness in the legs, such that the legs 'don't work'.
In most cases, the symptoms of spinal stenosis are produced when standing or walking and are relieved by sitting or bending forward. In rare cases, the nerves which control your bladder, bowel and sexual function can be compressed. This is known as cauda equina syndrome (CES) and often requires urgent surgical intervention. Fortunately, immediate spinal stenosis surgery is only necessary in a few cases.
Signs of spinal canal stenosis in the lumbar include:
- Legs feeling heavy, painful and numb
- Having to stop when walking
- Bending over forward relieves pain, so you tend to bend over when walking or support yourself on a shopping trolley
What causes lumbar spinal stenosis?
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 stemming from congenital spinal stenosis can begin to develop at 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 people over age 60 have this kind of narrowing.
How to diagnose spinal stenosis
There are many symptoms of spinal stenosis and they can often be similar to those caused by other diseases of the spine. With thorough diagnostic tests, we can find the root cause of your problems and initiate the appropriate spinal stenosis treatment.
Every diagnosis at our spinal stenosis treatment centre in London begins with an extensive consultation and a thorough physical examination.
After your assessment, we can confirm the diagnosis with imaging methods and precisely determine the location and extent of the narrowing. Whether you need an exact diagnosis, conservative treatment or precise disc surgery, you will benefit from the experience of our spine specialists.
Our approach to spinal stenosis diagnoses
Thorough examinations form the basis of your diagnosis and spinal stenosis treatment
Every diagnosis at our Schoen London Clinic begins with an extensive discussion 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 spinal stenosis diagnosis with imaging methods and precisely determine the location and extent of the narrowing.
We use innovative imaging to make the spinal canal stenosis visible
Narrowing of the vertebral canal can be best detected with 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. On occasions, we may have to perform other tests, such as a CT scan or neurophysiology testing.
What are the spinal stenosis treatment options?
Our specialists have years of experience in providing personalised treatment options for all our patients. We’ll always look to use non or minimally invasive treatments to help ease your symptoms before we refer you for spinal stenosis surgery.
In extreme cases, you may require spinal decompression surgery if other treatment avenues are exhausted. If multiple vertebrae are fused together, spinal fusion may be appropriate. However, at Schoen Clinic, we will only refer you for a spinal stenosis operation if all avenues have been exhausted, as we know surgery is not a decision to be undertaken lightly.
Find out more about spinal stenosis treatment with us
Whether you believe you may need a spinal stenosis operation, or you simply want to consider your options, our spinal stenosis consultants are here to help. Our award-winning team and innovative approach means you’ll always benefit from a personalised service with us. If you’re ready to get your life back on track, get in touch today.
What happens if spinal stenosis is left untreated?
Left untreated, spinal stenosis can worsen. In some cases, leaving your spinal stenosis can cause incontinence, weakness, numbness, balance problems or even paralysis.