Spinal stenosis is a by-product of wear and tear on the spine. It’s common later in life, but not inevitable.
What Is Spinal Stenosis?
Spinal stenosis occurs when the space within the spine narrows, putting pressure on nerves of the spinal cord, which can have a far-reaching effect. This compression commonly occurs in the neck or cervical spine and the lower back or lumbar spine.
How Can You Tell If You Have Spinal Stenosis?
A doctor’s evaluation is essential for properly diagnosing spinal stenosis — especially since some people suffer from spinal stenosis without obvious symptoms.
Spinal Stenosis Symptoms Include:
- Pain, including neck pain
- Muscle weakness
- Balance and walking issues
Numbness, tingling, and pain from spinal stenosis can occur in areas other than the back. Spinal stenosis can lead to numbness, weakness, and tingling in the hands, arms, feet, or legs.
What Causes Spinal Stenosis?
The spine protects the spinal cord. While some people naturally have a small spinal canal, spinal stenosis usually forms later in life when something happens that narrows the space around the spinal cord, such as an overgrowth of bone. Wear and tear from osteoarthritis can cause bone spurs in the spinal canal. Paget’s disease can also cause bone overgrowth.
Herniated disks can also cause spinal stenosis. Disks act as shock absorbers between the vertebrae of the spine. Age can cause them to dry out, causing cracks, and injuries can lead to compression. Ligaments that thickened and stiffen with age can bulge into the spinal canal. Tumors and spine injuries can also lead to spinal stenosis.
Is Spinal Stenosis Serious? What Happens If You Don’t Treat It?
Yes, because continuous pressure on the spinal cord can eventually cause nerve damage and have far-reaching effects such as loss of bladder control or bowel control. Untreated spinal stenosis can lead to dire consequences. The pain and sense of weakness it can cause often contributes to an increasingly sedentary lifestyle, resulting in a diminished quality of life. Lack of treatment can cause permanent nerve damage to the point of disability. If treatment is still ignored, spinal stenosis can eventually lead to paralysis and/or death.
What Is the Best Treatment for Spinal Stenosis?
“Best” depends upon the severity of the spinal stenosis and the patient’s other medical conditions. Stretches, exercises, and physical therapy can help in many cases. For more severe cases, steroid injections and surgery might be necessary. Medication options can range from anti-inflammatories to opioids for pain, depending upon the circumstances.
Spinal decompression is the goal of many of these treatment options. Chiropractic treatment and manual spinal decompression can also treat spinal stenosis.
Can Exercise Help Spinal Stenosis?
Yes, because exercises will remove pressure from the spine by strengthening the muscles surrounding it. Exercise can also improve flexibility, preventing muscle tightness that can make pain from spinal stenosis worse.
Talk to Total Chiropractic Care and Wellness
If you want to maintain good health for sports – or need help recovering from a car accident – chiropractic care can help, contact us at Total Chiropractic Care. You will receive a comprehensive evaluation to determine if it’s the right solution for your needs and when. Dr. Goldman creates treatment plans that incorporate pain management services as well as general lifestyle recommendations to help you live the best life you can. Contact us today.