The word stenosis is derived from the Greek word stenos, meaning narrow. This narrowing may occur in the center of the central vertebral canal or at the side(s) of the canal where spinal nerves exit the spinal column. Lateral canal stenosis, otherwise called foraminal stenosis is a term referring to the narrowing of the sides of the spinal canal. The specific area of the foramen most often becoming stenotic is the called the lateral recess area or lateral foraminal recess. Neither of these conditions produces symptoms unless the spinal cord itself or an adjacent nerve root becomes irritated, or compressed. When this happens, it produces symptoms such as localized pain, radiating pain, tingling, numbness or muscle weakness in the areas of the body innervated by the affected nerves.
Causes of lateral canal stenosis
Spinal stenosis typically is a result of the natural aging process. Frictional wear resulting from daily activity causes inflammation. The body’s response to this wear is deposition of added bone, which gives rise to stenosis. Inflammation caused by such entities as degenerative disc disease, herniated or bulging discs and trauma may also contribute to development of stenosis. Spinal arthritis can produce bone spurs. When these conditions develop along the sides of the spinal canal, as opposed to the middle, it is known as lateral canal stenosis. The condition can occur at any level of the spine. The stenosis produced has been referred to by multiple names, including:
- Lateral recess stenosis
- Subarticular stenosis
- Lateral gutter stenosis
- Subpedicular stenosis
- Foraminal canal stenosis
- Intervertebral foramen stenosis
Treating lateral canal stenosis
Conservative treatments can treat the symptoms, not cause the symptoms. Conservative treatments include pain medication, physical therapy, exercise, stretching and others. Conservative treatment is generally effective for managing initial symptoms associated with spinal stenosis. However, if chronic symptoms persist after weeks or months of conservative treatment, surgery may be indicated. If so, contact Laser Spine Institute to learn how our orthopedic specialists can help you correct the cause of symptoms without undergoing traditional open spinal surgery.