Spinal stenosis is a medical condition that can affect the spine and neck, leading to chronic pain and limited mobility. If you are experiencing any signs or symptoms listed below, it is important to consult with your health practitioner or find us with a search for a chiropractor near me. We discuss the signs, diagnosis, and treatment for spinal stenosis in the following article.
What Is Spinal Stenosis?
Spinal stenosis is a condition in which the spinal canal or nerve root passages are narrowed, reducing the amount of space for your spinal cord and nerves. A tightened space can cause the spinal cord or nerves to become irritated, compressed or pinched. This can result in pain, numbness, tingling, and other physical limitations. It is most common among adults over 50 due to wear and tear on the spine.
Where does spinal stenosis occur?
Spinal stenosis can occur anywhere along the spine, but most commonly occurs in two areas:
- Lower back (lumbar canal stenosis)
- Neck (cervical spinal stenosis)
Signs of Spinal Stenosis
Spinal stenosis can present in a variety of ways, depending on the location and severity of the condition, and may present as pain, numbness, or weakness in the legs, groin, feet, arms, hands, hips, buttocks, and lower back.
Common symptoms include:
- Back pain (lumbar stenosis) – This is usually felt as a dull ache or burning sensation, which can become worse after standing or walking for extended periods.
- Numbness or tingling in areas such as the back, buttocks, feet, arms, or hands – If spinal stenosis is affecting a nerve root, you may feel numbness or tingling in the area.
- Pain radiating from the lower back – If lumbar spinal stenosis is causing nerve compression, you may feel pain radiating from your lower back.
- Muscle weakness – As the nerves that control your muscles become compressed, you may notice a decrease in muscle strength and difficulty performing certain activities.
- Neck (cervical stenosis) – pain, numbness, tingling, and weakness in your neck, shoulders, and extremities (fingers, hands, and feet)
- Physical limitation – If spinal stenosis progresses to an advanced stage, it can limit your ability to walk and perform other activities of daily living such us buttoning a shirt. In severe cases, it can affect bladder and bowel control.
Causes of Spinal Stenosis
The most common cause of spinal stenosis is wear-and-tear changes in the spine related to arthritis. These include:
- Bone spurs.Wear-and-tear damage from arthritis can cause extra bone to grow on the spine, called bone spurs.
- Herniated disks.Disks are the soft cushions that act as shock absorbers between your spinal bones. If part of the disk’s soft inner material leaks out, it can press on the spinal cord or nerves.
- Thickening of ligaments.The strong cords that help hold the bones of your spine together can become stiff and thick over time and encroach into the spinal canal.
- Rarely, tumors can form inside the spinal canal.
- Spinal injuries.
Diagnosing Spinal Stenosis
If you are experiencing any of the above symptoms, it is important to visit your chiropractor or other health professional for an evaluation. A physical examination and imaging tests such as an X-ray, MRI or CT scan are used to diagnose spinal stenosis. Your health practitioner will also take into account your medical history and any other factors that may be contributing to your pain.
Treatment Options for Spinal Stenosis
Treatment for spinal stenosis will depend on the severity of your condition. Non-surgical treatments like stretching and physical therapy can be effective in relieving pain and promoting better mobility. Our chiropractors will use individual tailored techniques and a specific exercise program to assist with pain, help gain strength and improve balance, flexibility, and spine stability. In more severe cases, medication to help reduce inflammation and surgery may be recommended to alleviate pressure on the nerves.
If you are experiencing any of the signs of spinal stenosis, it is important to consult with your health professional or search for a “chiropractor near me” for an evaluation and proper diagnosis. With early detection and treatment, you can manage your condition and reduce the likelihood of developing more serious issues down the road. Contact us for more information about spinal stenosis.