Find Lasting Relief From Spinal Stenosis
Spinal stenosis—a narrowing of your spinal canal that puts pressure on your spinal cord or its branches—can affect your activities of daily living, but it can be managed using safe and noninvasive techniques. Before learning about alternative treatments for this spine problem, it’s important to understand what this condition is and how it may affect your body. Understanding what causes spinal stenosis along with the most common signs and symptoms is an important first step in managing this problem from a chiropractor with the safest and most effective conservative therapies available to you.
Stenosis usually occurs in one of three distinct parts of your spinal column, including:
- The canal through which your spinal cord travels
- The canals through which the nerve roots branching from your spinal cord run
- The openings between your vertebrae through which your nerves exit your spine
You are more likely to experience spinal stenosis if you are a female over the age of 50, though many middle-aged and older men also experience this often painful problem.
Causes & Symptoms
Aging is one of the leading causes of narrowing throughout your spine. Aging-related factors leading to spinal stenosis include:
- Thickening of your spinal ligaments (especially your ligamentum flavum)
- Protrusion of bone spurs into your spinal canal or other parts of your spine
- Bulging or herniation of your intervertebral discs
- Degeneration of your facet joints at the back of your vertebrae
- Compression fractures of your vertebrae (common in osteoporotic individuals)
Five other possible causes of spinal stenosis include:
- Spinal instability
Common signs and symptoms of spinal stenosis include:
- Buttock, thigh, and lower leg pain, numbness, weakness, and cramping
- Lower extremity pain that manifests quickly when walking up or down a hill
- Lower extremity pain that is relieved by sitting down or leaning over
Changes in bowel and bladder function, loss of sexual function, and partial or total leg paralysis are symptoms that occur in severe cases and represent a medical emergency.
Spinal Stenosis Treatment
There is no cure for spinal stenosis, but treatments do exist that can help reduce your symptoms. Surgery is a conventional therapy for this health problem, but surgical procedures carry significant risks, including infection and blood clots. NSAIDS (e.g., aspirin, ibuprofin, etc.), analgesics (e.g., acetaminophen), and corticosteroid injections may help temporarily, but they are not long-term solutions. Certain manual medicine techniques may be effective in keeping your pain at bay and preserving your spine health.