Spinal stenosis is, in simple terms, the narrowing of the spine. However, the pain felt from spinal stenosis is not such a simple matter. When living with the pain from spinal stenosis, it helps to know what exactly it means to have spinal stenosis, diagnosis information, causes, and treatment options.
Types and Causes of Spinal Stenosis
“Stenosis” means the abnormal narrowing of a body channel. When we age, the changes in the spinal cord can lead to degeneration in all the components that make up the spinal cord:
- Vertebrae (bones)
- Ligaments and connective tissue
Why People Develop Spinal Stenosis
While some people are born with a narrow spine, wear and tear due to aging causes most cases of spinal stenosis. Other causes include:
- Rheumatoid Arthritis
- Trauma to the spine
- Spine instability
- Abundance of fluoride in the body
- Calcium deposits on spinal ligaments
- Paget’s disease
Spinal stenosis can put pressure on the spinal cord and the nerves within the spine. It commonly occurs in the lower back (lumbar spinal stenosis) and neck (cervical spinal stenosis), but other areas of the spine can be affected.
Lumbar and Cervical Spinal Stenosis
About 75% of spinal stenosis occurs in the lower back area. Lumbar spinal stenosis happens in the lumbar region of the spine, which is located in the lower back region and is made up of five vertebrae called L1-L5 vertebrae.
Cervical spinal stenosis occurs in the seven vertebrae of the neck between the head and the chest that make up the cervical spine.
Nerves and nerve roots from the spinal cord travel through the spinal canal and come out of tiny openings on the sides of the vertebrae. These tiny holes are named foramina.
The nerves protruding from the foramina in the lumbar region are the ones responsible for transmitting motor signal messages from the buttocks and lower extremities to produce movement in legs, toes, and joints.
When these spinal nerve roots are squeezed and compressed, it can mimic symptoms of sciatica, producing tingling, numbness, or weakness radiating from the lower back and all the way down the legs. It can even cause loss of bowel functioning. People can fall down or appear to be clumsy as well.
Sometimes a person gets relief when he or she sits down or walks leaning forward on something. In these positions, the pressure is alleviated. However, other treatment is often necessary.
Diagnosis and Treatment Options for Spinal Stenosis
When you seek out a health care professional for symptoms of spinal stenosis, he or she will ask you a series of questions about neck, back, and leg pain, as well as questions about your balance, bathroom habits, prior medical history, range of mobility, and other areas of interest.
Next, diagnostic tests could be conducted, with X-rays, myelogram, bone, MRI, CAT, or CT scans on the list. You might also get a blood test to rule out any other diseases or deficiencies.
While some people opt for surgery or medication to treat spinal stenosis, several other methods can be just as effective.
Special exercises and stretches under the guidance of a physical therapist or other health care professional can help immensely. Exercises that require sitting and positioned in a flexed forward stance such as stationary biking can be a beneficial treatment option. Exercises can also increase flexibility and build up a person’s core to help with balance and stability, strengthening muscles around the spine.
Dynamic Health Can Help Treat Your Spinal Stenosis
If you are a person who suffers from spinal stenosis in the Charlotte, North Carolina, area, Dynamic Health is a great place to seek treatment from our staff of knowledgeable, professional health care providers. We offer advanced diagnostic technology to pinpoint your exact problem areas and plan and individualized, comprehensive care protocol to fit your specific needs.
Fill out our contact form to schedule your first appointment. You’ll be glad you did as you find solutions for your spinal stenosis pain at Dynamic Health.