Spinal canal stenosis (narrowed spinal canal)
In spinal canal stenosis - also known as window shopper's disease - the spinal canal becomes narrowed due to deposits or bony spurs and/or thickening of the ligaments. As a result, the nerves become trapped in the spinal canal. Often, narrowing of the nerve exit hole (neural foraminal stenosis) occurs in combination with spinal canal stenosis.
The pain usually occurs when walking and often radiates down to the leg. Bending forward or sitting down alleviates the pain since these movements widen the spinal canal and temporarily relieve the pressure on the nerves.
Spinal canal stenosis usually develops as a result of many years of wear and tear with the deposition of calcium structures and thickening of the ligaments, often combined with intervertebral disc bulges. People over the age of 60 are most commonly affected.
Patients with spinal canal stenosis generally cite back pain, radiation of the pain into the leg, a feeling of numbness, tingling, weakness and heaviness in the legs as symptoms. They can also experience weakness, limitations of movement, sleep disturbances, bladder-emptying problems and erectile dysfunction.
If conservative spinal canal stenosis treatments, such as the injection of pain medications directly into the affected nerves, or physiotherapy, fail to achieve any adequate results, we usually turn to microsurgery. This treats the original cause of the spinal canal stenosis by removing the calcifications and thickened structures that are trapping the nerves. This enables us to widen the spinal canal and the neural foramina.