Cardiovascular and Interventional Radiological Society of Europe

Spinal canal stenosis


Degenerative spinal canal stenosis is a disease which usually affects people over 50 and causes disabling pain and neurogenic intermittent claudication, meaning that you regularly have leg pain that is caused by inflamed nerves.

This condition involves the narrowing of one of the canals in your lower back. It may be caused by progressive hypertrophy (increase in volume) of the surrounding bone, cartilage or ligaments, and may compress nerves or vessels in your spinal canal.


Spinal canal stenosis is a degenerative disease that causes disabling pain and neurogenic intermittent claudication. You may find that the pain gets worse when you stand upright and that it is relieved by sitting down.


There are a number of methods that your doctor can use to diagnose you, including taking a medical history, clinically examining you, or using X-ray, CT or MRI. The most common diagnostic tool is an electromyography, which evaluates the electrical activity of your skeletal muscles.


In most cases, the first treatment option for patients is conservative treatment, such as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, physical therapy, brace support for instability or vertebral fractures, and epidural steroid injections.

There are also a number of minimally invasive therapies to treat spinal canal stenosis, including, for example, the implanting of percutaneous interspinous spacers that expand the affected area. Patients report a success rate of 75%, measured by the amount of pain reduction experienced. If conservative and minimally invasive therapies are unsuccessful, you may be advised to have surgery.