Spinal stenosis is a very common condition, yet, not everyone experiences symptoms of the same. There are various causes of spinal stenosis including degeneration or wear and tear in the spinal column, herniated discs, tumours, and spinal injuries. The condition occurs when the spaces in the spinal canal start narrowing, therefore, causing nerves to become compressed.
Spinal stenosis typically occurs in the lumbar and cervical regions, the former being the most commonly affected area. If not treated early, the condition can worsen and cause more painful symptoms.
What are the Symptoms of Spinal Stenosis?
As we mentioned earlier, some individuals do not experience symptoms, especially during the initial stages of the condition. For older individuals who wish to find out if they have the condition or not, a CT or MRI scan will show clear signs of spinal stenosis; appropriate treatment can be taken thereafter.
As far as symptoms are concerned, they vary depending on which part of the spine has been affected – cervical or lumbar – as well as the nerves in the spine that have been compressed.
Symptoms of Lumbar Stenosis
- Back pain
- Weakness experienced in one or both legs/feet
- Tingling sensations or numbness in one or both feet/legs
- Leg pain and/or cramping after standing or walking for too long; the pain subsides only after sitting down or when you bend forward
Symptoms of Cervical Stenosis
- Neck pain
- Weakness experienced in the leg/foot, arm, or hand
- Tingling sensations or numbness in the leg/foot, arm, or hand
- Balance issues or problems walking
- Bladder or bowel dysfunction (in severe cases of cervical stenosis)
Causes of Spinal Stenosis
The space within the spinal column allows the spine to flex and function without a problem, and also ensures that the spinal cord is well protected in the canal. When something causes spinal stenosis, the open space is narrowed, thus leading to dysfunction or symptoms related to the condition.
Some causes of spinal stenosis are as follows:
The spongy discs that sit between the vertebrae absorb shocks and help to keep the spine healthy. If a disc develops a crack, the soft material in the centre bulges out and can also compress nearby nerves, thus causing pain.
When bone spurs form due to wear and tear of the spinal bones, they can protrude into the open space of the spinal column. With age, many individuals are at risk of developing osteoarthritis of the spine which can lead to overgrowth of bones.
Although it is rare, a tumour in the spinal cord or one that develops within the canal can lead to spinal stenosis. For this reason, some doctors will advise a CT or MRI scan to rule out the possibility of an abnormal growth along the spine.
Thickening of Ligaments
The spine is held in position by ligaments that connect the vertebrae. In some people, especially older individuals, the cords thicken and stiffen which cause them to protrude into the open space in the spinal canal.
Injuries to the Spine
Any injury associated with the spine or one that causes inflammation of tissue close to the spine can lead to spinal stenosis. Various spinal injuries can strain nerves or the spinal cord, causing related symptoms of the condition, as well as other problems.
Treating Spinal Stenosis With Chiropractic Care
Chiropractic care and related therapies are often used to successfully treat spinal stenosis. Chiropractic adjustments or spinal manipulation, in particular, are helpful as they work to realign the spine and treat various spinal disorders and related issues including slipped disc, spinal arthritis, and spinal cord injuries.
Because it is a non-invasive therapy, it is widely preferred over surgical procedures and often the first course of treatment that a doctor advises to overcome spinal stenosis. A licensed and experienced chiropractor may also combine other therapies to treat the condition including massage therapy and other non-invasive treatments involving special tools and equipment.
The various techniques used by chiropractors realign the spine and help to reduce inflammation and pressure on the nerves and joints in the spinal cord. They also work well to address symptoms of spinal stenosis, along with tightness and numbness in muscles. It should be noted, however, that not all individuals can receive chiropractic adjustments and are therefore made to undergo a thorough chiropractic examination and disclose their medical history before the doctor can decide on whether or not spinal manipulation is an option for them.
Guided Exercise & Physiotherapy Programs for Spinal Stenosis
Chiropractors aim to successfully treat spinal stenosis through various therapies which often include customised programs and guided exercise and physiotherapy sessions. For those who are experiencing chronic pain and discomfort due to the condition, exercise and physical therapy help to ease spinal stenosis symptoms in a number of ways.
By strengthening the muscles in the back, increasing blood circulation, and improving mobility and flexibility of the spine, one’s overall spine health can improve significantly. In addition, spinal support is also increased, thus keeping it better protected and healthier. Depending on your symptoms, a chiropractor will create a personalised rehabilitation program to alleviate pressure on the spine and spinal nerves which, in turn, relieve pain and discomfort.
Through spinal manipulation or mobilisation and other therapies, spinal stenosis can be successfully treated by a reputed chiropractor. Upon conducting a thorough examination of the patient, and assessing the related symptoms (if any), the chiropractor will perform suitable, non-invasive treatments to tackle the cause of the condition, and alleviate symptoms by allowing the body to heal and recover faster thanks to spinal realignment.
If you are looking for a licensed, experienced, and reputable chiropractor to address spinal stenosis, our medical professionals at MSK Therapy ensure that each patient receives the right care and treatment as per their diagnosis. We also offer related therapies to treat spinal stenosis including massage therapy and physiotherapy.