Spinal stenosis affects the spinal cord and nerves causing pain, tingling, numbness, and muscle weakness. Your vertebrae provide protection for your spinal column. But when the openings in the vertebrae become compromised or smaller then pressure can build on your spinal cord. This pressure can cause pain, tingling, numbness, and muscle weakness at various points throughout your body. Freedom Health Centers works with patients suffering from spinal stenosis. While there’s no cure for this condition, there are treatment plans that can reduce or eliminate symptoms. People naturally become more sedentary when experiencing back pain. Our experts will cover why this is actually counterproductive along with several other facts about spinal stenosis.
The Basics about Spinal Stenosis
Spinal stenosis occurs when the spinal column narrows and the spinal cord is compressed. This is a gradual process and many people don’t experience any symptoms early on. However, as the condition worsens the compression can cause a number of problems.
Symptoms of Spinal Stenosis
As the compression of your spinal cord and nerves increases you may begin to experience symptoms. Generally the symptoms start off fairly mild and increase in severity over time. The symptoms can also vary depending on the location and the severity of the stenosis. Most people experience early symptoms of tingling, numbness, or muscle weakness accompanied by pain. The symptoms usually begin in the hands, arms, legs, or feet. In addition, many people experience pain while standing or walking for longer periods of time. Spinal stenosis can also cause balance problems and numbness or tingling in the buttocks. If you exhibit the symptoms of spinal stenosis you will want to set up a meeting with your health care provider. The condition isn’t curable but you can treat the symptoms and attempt to relieve pressure on your nerves and spinal cord. Continued pressure for extended periods of time can result in permanent nerve damage.
Spinal Stenosis Causes
The most common cause behind spinal stenosis is aging. In rare cases, children may be born with a narrow spinal canal. However, it is far more likely to occur in adults over the age of 45. As part of our natural aging process, the tissues in the spine thicken and bones become bigger. This compresses the spinal cord and nerves. Additionally, conditions such as osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis can also contribute to spinal stenosis. Scoliosis, Paget’s disease, and bone tumors are also known to narrow the spinal canal. People who suffer from spinal stenosis are at risk of worsening symptoms if their spine becomes misaligned too.
Diagnosis and Treatment of Spinal Stenosis
Diagnosing spinal stenosis requires the use of diagnostic imaging. Using x-rays along with MRI or CT scans, your doctor will evaluate your spine. These detailed images will allow them to see what conditions could be causing your symptoms. They may also suggest an electromyelogram to study the health of your spinal nerves. When diagnosed with spinal stenosis, your health care provider will work with you to develop a treatment plan. Many people find relief through chiropractic care and physical therapy. These non-invasive treatment options are better than medications that only mask the problem. Chiropractic care and physical therapy actually help your spine function better. Chiropractic care ensures that your spine is in alignment. This provides maximum space in your spinal canal. Your chiropractor can also tend to any other alignment issues that may be worsening your condition. Physical therapy is also useful because it helps your body regain strength and flexibility. When most people experience back pain, they cut back on activity. This causes muscles to weaken over time. Physical therapy helps build these muscles back up to help support your spine and prevent problems.
Living with Spinal Stenosis
In addition to regular chiropractic and physical therapy visits, there are things you can do at home to help ease pain and discomfort. Using heat packs and ice can temporarily reduce inflammation and pain. Your physical therapist and chiropractor can also provide you with stretches and exercises that you can do at home for relief. Practice proper posture throughout the day, especially while exercising and lifting objects to help prevent additional injury. Many people live fulfilling lives with spinal stenosis. Slight modifications to physical activities can help reduce pain. It’s important to keep regular appointments with your chiropractor to monitor the severity of your condition. Ongoing appointments can help keep undue pressure off your nerves and spinal cord. This condition may gradually worsen over time, but it’s not something you want to avoid treating at any stage. Not seeking treatment for your spinal stenosis can result in permanent nerve damage. This is why it’s so important to consult with your health care provider if you experience symptoms.