Spinal stenosis is an abnormal narrowing of the spinal canal. The spinal canal is the passageway where the spinal cord and nerve roots are encased. This narrowing can happen at any area in the spine.
There are three major types of spinal stenosis, and identifying each will help with the treatment.
Lateral stenosis: This is the most common type and occurs when a nerve root that leaves the spinal canal is compressed by either a bulging or herniated disc. This compression can result in sciatica or lumbar/ cervical radiculopathy; depending on where the compression is.
Central stenosis: This occurs when the central canal of the spinal cord is being choked. This can lead to compression of the spinal cord and the nerve roots.
Foraminal stenosis: This area is where the nerve root leaves the spinal canal, when this is compressed it can cause radiculopathy.
Pain in the affected area
Pain in legs and, or arms
Weakness in legs or arms
Numbness and tingling in legs or arms
Bulging or herniated discs
Thickening of the ligaments in the spinal canal
Screening and diagnosis:
The doctor will start out with a physical examination, after, the doctor may order some imaging such as at CT, MRI, or myelogram to help with the diagnosis. If the doctor feels that there may be nerve damage he may schedule for an electromyography (EMG). The EMG measures the signals the nerves make.
Anti-inflammatory medication, and in some cases pain medication
Epidural steroid injections to help decrease the nerve inflammation, thus decreasing symptoms.