Spinal Canal Stenosis

Conditions_CanalSpinal Canal Stenosis occurs when nerve roots in the spinal canal are compressed due to a narrowing of the disc space around them. This is usually associated with age-related degeneration of the spine, but also can be caused by arthritis of the spine, congenital bone defects, a herniated disc, or a tumor. The condition can affect the cervical, thoracic, or lumbar spine.

Symptoms of spinal canal stenosis can manifest themselves in a number of ways. The most common symptoms usually occur in the legs while walking or standing in place. Anyone who has this condition suddenly feels as if their legs turned tired, cramped, or weak. By sitting or lying down, in a fetal position, the symptoms often subside or are not as intense. Because the pain is caused by compression of the spinal canal, it is believed that the more relaxed positions help relax the canal. This opening takes pressure off of the nerves in your legs. In more intense cases of spinal canal stenosis, one may start having problems controlling their bowels, bladder, or start feeling weakness in their extremities.

Although a spinal expert can often diagnose a patient of spinal canal stenosis by symptoms, sometimes an x-ray or special test is required to visualize the spine and confirm the condition. More mild cases of the nerve pressure can mean the patient may be able to treat themselves with light exercise, physical therapy program, or oral medication. More severe symptoms might mean necessary spine surgery, which would directly take pressure off of the nerves.


  • Tingling in the legs
  • Pain in the back and legs
  • Weakness and numbness in the extremities
  • Muscle cramps
  • Problems with bladder and bowel function

Treatment (and Prevention)

  • Analgesics and anti-inflammatory medications
  • Bed rest
  • Physical therapy
  • Steroid injections
  • Surgery to decompress the spinal cord and nerves

Various types of spine surgeries exist to help patients relieve their back pain. In many cases, a minimally invasive spine surgery is enough to treat a condition with minimal surgery and often being able to leave the clinic on the same day. If you are looking for a spine surgeon in New Jersey who can help with your pain, contact your nearest Spine Institute location for an appointment.