Spinal stenosis refers to the narrowing of the spinal canal. This narrowing causes pinching or compression of the spinal cord or nerves within the spinal canal, which can in turn lead to pain in the back, buttocks, thighs, and legs, as well as an overall decrease in physical activity.
There are two basic types of spinal stenosis: Lumbar spinal stenosis is the result of narrowing of the spinal canal on the lower part of the spinal column, whereas cervical spinal stenosis affects the upper part of the spine. In most cases, spinal stenosis is the result of a degeneration of the spine, which occurs with aging.
If nonoperative treatments fail to effectively suppress the symptoms of spinal stenosis, your doctor may recommend surgery.
The goal of surgery is to simply widen the spinal canal and thus relieve the pain-inducing pressure on the spinal cord or the spinal nerves.
This procedure creates more space for the nerves by effectively removing the roof (or lamina) of the vertebra with or without removing part of the disc or fusing vertebrae. Unstable areas of the spine may need to be fused with the use of rods and screws.
Stenosis can also be treated by a number of other surgeries:
This surgery specifically removes only a small portion of the lamina, thus relieving pressure on the nerve roots.
This procedure involves relieving the condition called nerve root compression by removing the intervertebral disc through a small incision made near the front of the neck. The removed disc is replaced by a bone graft between the adjacent vertebrae.
The removal of the vertebral body and adjacent intervertebral discs to allow decompression of the cervical spinal canal as well as spinal nerves. A metal plate and screws along with a bone graft is used to obtain a fusion.