Lumbar Canal Stenosis - Fact Sheet

What is Lumbar Canal Stenosis ?

Canal stenosis occurs normally due to ageing and degeneration of the spinal canal. If this degeneration is significant enough, stenosis can occur, which is the compression of the spinal cord as in runs through the spinal canal.

lumbar canal stenosis

Signs and Symptoms​ of Lumbar canal stenosis​ ?

• Back pain and stiffness, which improves with movement
• Loss of sensation of the lower limbs bilaterally (both legs)
• Loss of strength bilaterally in the legs
• Potentially some pain with walking (claudication)

Diagnosis & Investigations

• An MD Health Physiotherapist, Osteopath or Accredited Exercise Physiologist can help diagnose lumbar canal stenosis via thorough lumbar spine and nervous system clinical and mechanical testing.
• An MRI or X-Ray can help confirm this diagnosis, what levels of the spine are affected, and whether or not there is significant compression at a particular spinal level
• Depending on the severity of symptoms, a consult with a specialist neurologist may be considered.

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Canal Stenosis - CT Scan

Treatment and Management Lumbar canal stenosis?

Hands on treatment: techniques such as traction can help reduce the pressure on the spinal cord and canal helping “centralise” any lower leg symptoms back to the spine. This should not be solely relied upon to reduce pain, as evidence suggests this works best in conjunction with specific, individualised exercise programming.

Tailored Clinical Exercise will help to strengthen the core muscles that support your spine (including your deep abdominals, lumbar erector muscles, and gluteals/buttocks), thus helping centralise your symptoms and decrease the severity your pain. The symptoms of canal stenosis can be improved and fully recovered with clinical exercise alone!!! Because of this, exercise can be considered an excellent treatment method for Lumbar canal stenosis. Patience is the key with rehab for a canal stenosis, as it can take anywhere from 3 to 18months to have improvements in symptoms, sometimes even longer for a full recovery!

Surgical options: depending on severity, a surgery called a laminectomy or spinal decompression may be an option. However, because of all the sensitive structures around the lumbar spine, surgeries can have significant risks, so this should be considered a last resort of treatment.

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