What is Lumbar Spinal Canal Stenosis?

Lumbar spinal canal stenosis occurs when the space in your spine becomes too small. The spinal canal houses a bundle of nerves that runs through a tunnel formed by the bones in your back. Lumbar spinal canal stenosis is often caused by normal wear-and-tear and arthritis. When this happens, the space is reduced causing compression of the nerves in the spine which may cause pain and other symptoms.

If your doctor has given you the diagnosis of degenerative spondylolisthesis, this means that one of the vertebrae in your spine has slipped over the one below it. This can also be a cause of spinal canal stenosis.

What Are the Types of Lumbar Spinal Canal Stenosis?

There are two types of spinal canal stenosis:

  • Central Stenosis – This affects the entire spinal canal
  • Lateral Stenosis – This causes compression or narrowing of the spinal canal that is located toward the side of the disc or vertebrae.

What Are Symptoms of Lumbar Spinal Canal Stenosis?

  • Low back pain
  • Pain, tingling, or numbness in the legs when walking; this can be constant or stop upon rest

If you have symptoms of lumbar spinal canal stenosis, book an appointment online with Prof. Pier Paolo Maria Menchetti at UPMC Salvator Mundi International Hospital for treatment options.

How Do You Diagnose Lumbar Spinal Canal Stenosis?

Your spine specialist may order an MRI to confirm a narrowing of the spinal canal and compression of the nerves. They also may order an EMG to assess muscle strength and to distinguish symptoms from other diagnoses.

How Do You Treat Lumbar Spinal Canal Stenosis?

There are conservative and surgical treatment options for lumbar spinal canal stenosis.

Conservative Treatments

If symptoms are mild, your spine specialist may order anti-inflammatory drugs, a steroid injection in your back, and physical therapy. Patients diagnosed with degenerative spondylolisthesis may need to wear a back brace.

Surgical Treatments (Where there is no movement between the vertebrae)

The primary goal of surgery is to decompress the nerve or nerves. Surgical procedures include bilateral laminectomy, laminotomy, and applying an interspinous spacer.

  • Bilateral Laminectomy – This procedure involves removing both sides of the lamina, the part of the vertebra that protects the spinal canal. Patients can move about after 1-2 days and be discharged after 3 days. This method is recommended for patients with confirmed narrowing of the spinal canal and lower limb symptoms described above. The success rate is about 85%.
  • Laminotomy – A laminotomy removes only the portion of the lamina that is damaged. The lamina supports and protects the spinal canal. Laminotomy may be performed on one or both sides of the same vertebrae and is recommended for constriction of the central spinal column where there is limb pain. Following surgery, patients can move about after one day and be discharged after a two-day hospital stay. The success rate is about 85%.
  • Interspinous Spacers – Spine surgeons also use spacers to create space between the vertebrae to give the nerves more room. These are placed between the vertebrae under local anesthesia. The procedure can be done minimally-invasively or using a conventional, open incision. Patients can move about following their surgery and be discharged the same day or the next day. The success rate is about 70%.

Surgical Treatments (Where there is movement between the vertebrae)

Spine surgeons may use the same techniques described above but may fuse two vertebrae together to improve stability.

Spine Center at UPMC Salvator Mundi International Hospital

The Spine Center at UPMC Salvator Mundi International Hospital is an innovative and multispecialty center for the diagnosis and treatment of spine disorders and diseases. For a diagnosis and treatment options, book an appointment online today with Prof. Pier Paolo Maria Menchetti.