What Is Spinal Stenosis?
Spinal stenosis is caused by narrowing of the spinal canal. Common causes of this narrowing are physical problems with the spine or changes in the spine as a result of aging. Narrowing of the spinal canal can impact many parts of the spine, including vertebrae, disks, ligaments, joints, and nerve roots.
Symptoms of Spinal Stenosis
Spinal stenosis may or may not cause symptoms, but common symptoms of spinal stenosis include:
- Numbness or pain in the legs due to pressure on the lower spinal cord or nerve roots branching out from the spinal cord
- Numbness or pain in the neck or shoulders due to pressure on the upper part of the spinal cord
- Cramping and limping
- Muscle weakness and spasms
- Lower back pain
In severe cases, stenosis can also interfere with bowel and bladder function.
What Causes Spinal Stenosis?
Sufferers of spinal stenosis are typically over age 50 because the condition often occurs as a result of calcifying ligaments in the spine or enlarged bones and joints due to aging. Some form of spinal degeneration is observed in 95 percent of people by age 50.
Some people are born with spinal stenosis, and it can occur in younger people who suffer a spinal injury. It also can occur as the result of scoliosis.
Other causes of spinal stenosis include:
- Arthritis, such as osteoarthritis, which causes bone degeneration, or rheumatoid arthritis, which causes painful inflammation in the joints
- Tumors of the spine
- Paget's disease of bone, which causes enlarged or abnormal bones
How Chiropractic Treatment Can Help With Spinal Stenosis
While severe spinal stenosis is often treatable only with surgery, mild and moderate cases of spinal stenosis have been shown to benefit significantly from chiropractic care. After determining the extent of your condition, your chiropractor will typically perform spinal manipulation to reduce painful symptoms and restore proper joint function.
Your chiropractor may also recommend home exercises, which may be effective for spinal stenosis patients. Exercises that focus specifically on the lower back, the stomach muscles, and general muscle strengthening may be helpful.
While spinal stenosis is not curable, chiropractic is a noninvasive, conservative alternative to traditional medical treatment, which can include pain-relieving drugs and surgery.
As stated above, surgery may be appropriate for some patients. However, other patients may not be surgical candidates because of other health concerns. For patients who cannot or do not wish to undergo surgery, chiropractic may be a safe alternative that could bring significant relief to symptoms of spinal stenosis.
The current standard of practice for spinal stenosis recommends six to twelve weeks of conservative care, such as chiropractic, prior to a surgical consult. If you begin to experience more severe symptoms at any point in your treatment, such as lost control of bowel or bladder function, we will recommend an immediate evaluation and assist you with a referral.
At Plato Chiropractic Health Clinic, we are committed to helping our patients live healthier, pain-free lives. If you suffer from spinal stenosis, our experienced chiropractors can discuss a treatment plan to address your symptoms and provide relief.