Very common narrow canal disease (lumbar stenosis) occurs when the structure of the discs, spine joints, and ligaments between the vertebrae deteriorates over time. As age gets older, the discs harden, and the bones and joints become thicker and wider. The spinal canal is narrowed by the growth of discs and facet joints. Findings show up after this canal, which contains the spinal cord and nerve roots, which makes our legs move and feel, narrows down and crushes the nerve structures. This condition is called lumbar narrow canal (lumbar stenosis).
In this disease, also known as lumbar calcification colloquially, complaints begin especially when walking. The numbness, tingling, and pain that begin in the legs and feet and the fact that patients have to rest on the road are among the most important symptoms of narrow canal disease. Especially encountered in older women with weight problems, narrow canal disease can cause damage such as gait disturbance and paralysis if not treated.
Narrow canal disease may be seen in three different parts of the spine which are the neck, waist, and back, and occurs as a result of the aging of the spine. It is usually seen in older ages and is especially common in women with excess weight. Symptoms of the disease in the low back may often be confused with the herniated disc. Patients who have numbness, tingling and burning sensation, pain and weakness in the legs and feet should consult a doctor.
Low back pain is usually the initial complaint. Leg pains that have recently arisen are often added to long-term low back pain. Low back and leg pain often begin with walking and increase. Numbness, cramps, and weakness of legs are added to these pains. The findings usually increase after standing or walking for a long time.
The findings may fluctuate by increasing and decreasing over time but gradually deteriorate over time. This deterioration may occur over many years or rapidly within months. Because of discomfort in the low back and legs, the walking distance becomes shorter. The patient has to stop to relieve the pain. Urinary and fecal incontinence is rare. The lumbar narrow canal may not always give signs. Although some patients have severe stenosis they do not have complaints. Sometimes, it can show up with very serious findings.
The patient’s complaints, history of the disease and examination are very important in terms of diagnosis. Narrowed disc spaces and enlarged facet joints can be seen in x-ray films. Deteriorations in facet joints, deterioration of spine bones, slippages and scoliosis may be seen.
Low back tomography can give detailed information about the structures of the spine bones.
Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) provides detailed information about soft tissues such as cartilage, nerve tissue, ligaments and connective tissue between the vertebral structures.
All of these examinations provide information on the degree, level of stenosis and compression of nerve roots.
Medical Treatment for Narrow Canal Patients Without Complaints
The narrow spinal canal disorder progresses in a quiet manner and manifests itself at later ages. According to the findings, surgical or nonsurgical treatments are applied to the patients. We can summarize this stage as follows: After the patient’s complaints, the patient sees a doctor, he/she is examined and then radiological examinations are performed. If MRI, tomography and X-ray results also support the clinical findings, the patient is diagnosed with the narrow canal. Protective treatment or operation is decided according to the stage of the disease. In fact, a small proportion of patients with narrow canal need surgery.
If the patient does not have symptoms that will decrease the quality of life such as pain, ache, numbness, and the patient can walk for a long distance the surgery is not recommended for these patients. In this case, medical treatment is administered. Muscle relaxants, painkillers, and anti-inflammatory drugs can be used. Physical therapy aims at strengthening the lumbar muscles, increasing the mobility of the waist and thus reducing the complaints. Injections to the spine may be useful. Non-surgical treatment methods cannot correct the narrowing of the spinal canal alone but may provide pain control.
Operation With Micro Surgery Method Is Possible
With developing technology, different techniques can be applied in narrow channel operations. The aim of surgical treatment involves opening the bone structure of the canal and providing the necessary space for the spinal cord and nerves. This method is called as lumbar decompression surgery or laminectomy. In classical surgery, the back of the spine is usually removed and relaxed. However, in some cases, screws can also be used to prevent the spine from slipping.
The spine is usually relieved through a small opening with microsurgery, which is a method that draws attention in recent years. Nerves are relaxed by extending the spinal canal through a small skin incision from one side in the microsurgical method. Patients who have been operated on with this method usually recover more easily from the healing process. However, this method cannot be applied to every narrow canal patient. For this, the doctor must decide according to the condition of the disease.