Spinal canal stenosis

Targeted treatment for a back free from pain

When your legs get pins and needles, it’s not too bad. But when they constantly get pins and needles and your back hurts, spinal canal stenosis may be involved. With this disorder, the canal within the spine narrows as you get older. In rare cases, the disorder can also be present from birth. Those affected report radiating back pain and numbness in the limbs. They also need to stop a lot, even during short walks.

As a patient, you’ll have a lot of questions after being diagnosed with spinal canal stenosis. The experts at Schoen Clinic will be happy to advise you. Our medical staff are specialised in spinal disorders caused by degeneration. If you suffer from spinal canal stenosis, we offer individually tailored treatment, whatever your situation.

Causes & symptoms

What is spinal canal stenosis?

Inside your spine is the spinal canal. The spinal cord and spinal nerve roots run along this canal. With spinal canal narrowing (stenosis), the spinal cord and nerves no longer have enough space and are pinched.

The term “spinal” originally comes from Latin and refers to anything belonging to the backbone.

Causes: how does spinal canal stenosis occur?

Spinal canal narrowing can be present from birth, but it can also develop later in life (hereditary spinal stenosis).

With innate spinal stenosis, the bony connections (pedicles) between the spine and vertebral joints along the full length of the spine are too short. Symptoms can be spotted early at a young age.

Hereditary spinal stenosis primarily occurs in the lumbar spine (lumbar spine spinal canal stenosis) and cervical spine (cervical spine spinal canal stenosis). It may result in degenerative wear of the discs (disc protrusion). If the connective tissue layer (fascia) which protects the spinal canal like a strip of tape is thickened, this can also lead to spinal stenosis. One in every five people over 60 have this type of narrowing.

Symptoms: signs of spinal canal stenosis

Spinal canal stenosis can have different symptoms. When the spinal canal in the lumbar spine is narrowed, your legs will feel weak and numb. You’ll need to take frequent breaks when walking. You’ll also tend to lean forwards or support yourself on the shopping trolley for example when walking.

Changed handwriting is typical of spinal canal stenosis of the cervical spine. In addition, buttoning up shirts or grabbing small objects will be difficult.

Paralysis and sensitivity disorders are generally rare and are signs of severe narrowing. In this case, consult a doctor immediately.

Diagnostics

Diagnosis: find the exact causes of your symptoms

There are many symptoms of spinal canal narrowing, and these can also be signs of other disorders of the spine. Using thorough diagnostics, we’ll find the causes of your symptoms and carry out corresponding treatment.

Thorough examination from the beginning

An in-depth consultation with you starts off every diagnosis. We then carry out a thorough physical examination, where we invoke each of the symptoms described through careful overextension of the trunk (stenosis of the lumbar spine) or by bending the neck forwards (stenosis of the cervical spine), for example. If you suffer from severe pain, we can accurately determine both the location and extent of your spinal canal narrowing through imaging procedures. These include magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and computer tomography (CT).

Imaging shows the spinal canal stenosis

Narrowing in the spinal canal is best determined using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). This procedure is perfect for imaging the spinal canal and the spinal cord and nerve roots running inside it.
We conduct computer tomography (CT) for patients with pacemakers, as the metal parts in a pacemaker must not be exposed to MRI magnetic fields.

In some cases, we also carry out a neurological examination – electromyography (EMG) – as part of our diagnostics. This measures the conduction velocity in the spinal cord or nerves which allows us to make conclusions on nerve activity.