Catching it early and being proactive with your treatment is the key to a successful recovery. A visit to your chiropractor may be the best place to start.
Spinal stenosis is a degenerative condition of the spine that affects either the spinal cord or the spinal nerves. It occurs when the bony openings of the spine become narrow or shrink due to degenerative changes of the spinal bones, intervertebral discs, or thickening of the spinal ligaments. These changes constrict the spinal nerves and/or the spinal cord causing symptoms such as pain, numbness, pins and needles sensation, and/or weakness in the low back and legs. These symptoms can also cause difficulty walking.
There are two types of spinal stenosis:
Foraminal stenosis, which occurs in the part of the spine where the spinal nerves exit the spine to travel to the rest of the body.
Central canal stenosis, which occurs in the spinal canal (the bony tube that houses and protects the spinal cord)
Depending on where the stenosis occurs and which nerves are being choked off, will determine the type and location of the symptoms.
Some of the more common symptoms of lumbar spine central canal stenosis are increased pain, numbness, weakness, or a loss of coordination in both legs when walking. This is called neurogenic claudication. Usually, the symptoms are relieved after 5 to 10 minutes of sitting down or leaning forward. Common symptoms of foraminal stenosis are pain, numbness, tingling, and/or weakness that travels from the back into the buttock and down one leg.
For many people with spinal stenosis, the severity of the symptoms can change from day to day. Some days being very bad and others with almost no symptoms. However, as the condition progresses and the degenerative changes in the spine become worse, the symptoms can become more severe.
How do you treat spinal stenosis without surgery? A chiropractor may be the best doctor to see.
The key to slowing or even stopping the progression of lumbar spinal stenosis is diagnosing the condition early and intervening with chiropractic treatments and joint mobilization, physical therapy, weight loss (if needed), specific exercise and stretching, and certain yoga poses. By relieving excess stress and pressure on the spine and restoring its normal motion and alignment some of the degenerative processes causing the stenosis can potentially be slowed or even halted. Although much of the bony changes that cause spinal stenosis are permanent, making these changes and being proactive with your care can lead to significant symptom reduction and a more favorable outlook for the future.
Early symptoms of lumbar spinal stenosis can involve cramping or discomfort in one or both legs after a long walk. It can also involve numbness and/or achiness after standing for long periods of time. Other conditions, such as Lumber Facet Syndrome, can also mimic these symptoms. Diagnostic imaging such as x-rays, CT scans, or MRI can be helpful in accurately diagnosing lumbar spinal stenosis.
If lumbar spinal stenosis becomes more severe a consultation with an orthopedist or neurosurgeon may be necessary.
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Wishing you good health.
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