Spinal Stenosis Specialist

Pawel Jankowski, MD -  - Neurosurgeon

Pawel Jankowski, MD

Neurosurgeon & Spine Specialist located in Irvine, CA & Newport Beach, CA

Spinal stenosis is a narrowing of spinal openings, which can result in compression of the spinal canal or individual nerves. If you have symptoms of spinal stenosis, we can help! Dr. Jankowski employs minimally invasive and advanced surgical treatments to help patients suffering from spinal stenosis. To find out more, call Dr. Jankowski today or book an appointment online.

Spinal Stenosis Q & A

What is spinal stenosis?


  • Stenosis= narrowing of an open space
  • Spinal Stenosis refers specifically to the narrowing of spinal openings
    • Spinal canal (opening for spinal cord)
    • Neuroforamen (opening for nerve roots)

Spinal stenosis is a condition where your spinal canal or neuroforamen gets narrower. This can occur anywhere along the spinal column, however is mostly seen in the cervical (neck) and lumbar spine (lower back). It can be due to the effects of degenerative conditions like osteoarthritis and degenerative disc disease.

These conditions lead to increases in pressure between the vertebrae that make up your spine. More weight goes on the facet joints in your spine, which causes the spinal canal to narrow. The facet joints themselves deteriorate, and your body tries to support your spine by producing osteophytes (bone spurs).

The ligaments supporting your spine can also start to thicken, and together with the bone spurs cause further narrowing. The result is that the space left for your spinal cord and the nerves coming off it becomes so narrow the nerves suffer from compression that causes the symptoms of spinal stenosis.


What are the symptoms of spinal stenosis?

Common symptoms involve pain, numbness or tingling, and weakness in the effected muscle group innervated by the nerve region that is compressed.  If the spinal cord is compressed this is referred to as myelopathy, usually occurs in the cervical spine (underline and link to image of myelopathy vs radiculopathy). If a nerve root is compressed this is referred to as radiculopathy. 

If you have spinal stenosis in the lumbar spine, you’re likely to experience symptoms of neurogenic claudication, which include lower back pain, pain in one or both legs, and pain in your hips and buttocks. You might also feel tingling sensations or cramping in these areas, and a feeling of heaviness or weakness in your legs. 

Symptoms of spinal stenosis are often worse when you move, then get better when you sit down, particularly if you lean forward. 

Central Stenosis

Narrowing of the central spinal canal

Foraminal Stenosis

Narrowing of the intervertebral foramen

Lateral Recess Stenosis

Narrowing of the space within the spinal canal adjacent to the exit zone of the nerve root

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