Spinal Stenosis: Symptoms, Causes & Treatments

What Is Spinal Stenosis?

Okay, the word spinal you probably get. Now, the word stenosis refers to the abnormal narrowing of a channel within the body. When you combine them, it means the narrowing of any channel related to the spine, nerves, cord and all. Typically it’s the result of the aging process and a part of overall spondylosis which is the degeneration and weakening of the spine through life. It can occur in a single area or impact multiple areas at once.

What Causes Stenosis?

The core components of your spine (33 vertebrae & discs) form a protective canal for the spinal cord which connects your mind and body. Once you get into the 50+ age range, it’s common for the spinal canal (and neuroforamen at the sides between vertebrae) to narrow due to arthritis, which can then put pressure on the cord and surrounding nerves and soft tissues.

What Are the Symptoms of Stenosis?

Symptoms vary depending on your age, genetics, lifestyle, health, and the specifics of your condition. Generally speaking, you don’t feel anything until things get too crowded in your spine and nerves become impinged enough to cause radiating pain, tingling, spasms, numbness, and possibly a feeling of weakness in the legs. Then it’s a matter of the impact of the impingement. If it’s in your lower back it could lead to sciatica, or if cervical, it could lead to more serious symptoms like loss of neck and head mobility.

How to Diagnose Spinal Stenosis?

Head to a chiropractor! Here in Alaska, Better Health chiropractors standby to review your medical history and symptoms, then conduct a gentle physical assessment to check your range of motion, mobility, etc. We may take a simple x-ray of impacted areas, or conduct short imaging tests to get a clear idea of the state of your spine as well. It usually doesn’t take long to diagnose spinal stenosis, then we can design a personal and comprehensive treatment plan.

What Are the Different Types of Stenosis?

Great question, and while you’d probably love to draw in medical terminology right now, we’ll keep the three primary types very simple. Once again, stenosis often happens in the lumbar and cervical spinal regions.

  • Foraminal Stenosis: Remember the neuroforamen pathways mentioned above, when something compresses any nerve exiting through them in the lumbar region, this is what it’s referred to.
  • Central Stenosis: When anything compresses nerves within the spinal canal, it’s referred to as central.
  • Far Lateral Stenosis: Beyond the neuroforamen, secondary development of bone spurs, herniated discs, etc., can occur and cause a narrowing to the “far lateral” area.

How to Treat Stenosis?

At Better Health Chiropractic we offer a wide variety of nonoperative treatments that may include elements of chiropractic care services, physical therapy, and chiropractic massage therapy – all in the same clinic. It’s important to remain active, so we often help folks design an exercise regimen while at the same time addressing needed lifestyle changes (posture, diet, etc.). Epidural injections and anti-inflammatory medications are also options. We want you to be fully informed of your options for care and will help make sure you feel comfortable with your choices.

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Is Stenosis of the Spine Reversible?

In some cases yes, in others no. What matters is whether or not what you’re experiencing is reversible, right? The ONLY real way to find out is to visit a chiropractic clinic where we can assess your symptoms, and diagnose the issue. We will use every noninvasive method at our disposal. When surgery is not desired, we can help to relieve pressure according to what your individual vertebra may need. Nothing is certain, but at a minimum, this approach will stop narrowing from getting worse and often eliminates the pain.

Is Stenosis Hereditary?

If you’re worried you might inherit spinal stenosis or pass it on to your children, all we can tell you at this point is that some inherited traits can make people more vulnerable. This is a long ways from any certainty, but there is a connection in some families. Chiropractic benefits help to maximize each patient’s personal quality of life with a customized method of care.