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Lumbar Canal Stenosis

Lumbar canal stenosis is narrowing of the spinal canal in the lower back which causes compression of nerves. It causes leg pain particularly on walking which gets relieved on taking rest. When this condition affects activities of daily living or occasionally weakness- surgery is recommended. Or else, conservative treatment is advised in most patients.

Lumbar– lower back, canal – the passage through which the spinal cord and nerves pass, stenosis– narrowing.

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Lumbar canal stenosis as the name suggests in simple words is narrowing of the passage through which the spinal cord and nerves pass. This is usually an age related condition which affects the elderly. It is caused due to overgrowth of structures surrounding the spinal cord [ligamentum flavum and facet joint] as wear and tear occurs, thus causing compression of neural structures. Typically patients complain of radiating pain/ heaviness/tingling/ numbness in lower limbs particularly on walking. It may get better by resting for some time. As time progresses, the walking distance usually decreases, affecting quality of life. In extreme cases, it may cause weakness of lower limbs or bowel/ bladder incontinence for which urgent surgery is warranted. The condition is diagnosed on MRI which shows compression of nerves.


Except in extreme cases as described above, it is an elective [planned] surgery and the decision for surgery is usually taken by the patient himself [based on subjective disability]. Until then, conservative treatment with medications and physiotherapy is beneficial As the pathology is compression of neural structures, the surgical procedure aims to decompress these with a Laminectomy- Decompression Surgery without jeopardising the spinal stability. Based on patient’s symptoms and X-rays/MRI, it may be necessary to install surgical implants in some- Stabilization/ Fusion Surgery. The above surgery can be done in Conventional and Minimally Invasive Techniques.