What is spinal stenosis?
Spinal stenosis is simply narrowing of the canals in which the spinal cord runs through or in which the spinal nerve roots exit from the spinal cord.
These canals can narrow from several different conditions or a combination of multiple conditions at once leading to the narrowing of the canals in spine in which the spinal cord and nerves travel referred to as spinal stenosis.
What causes spinal stenosis?
Let’s go through some of the most common underlying conditions that cause spinal canal stenosis or stenosis in the canals that the spinal nerves roots exit. From my experience in the treatment of spinal stenosis in my Raleigh, NC clinic, this is what I have seen:
Bulging and herniated discs in the neck mid or lower back. A bulging or herniated disc often referred to as a slipped disc can be a very painful condition which causes spinal stenosis. Nearly all herniated or bulging spinal discs push back towards the nerve roots and spinal cord. This narrows the canals and is one cause of spinal stenosis.
Facet Arthrosis. Another condition which can lead to spinal stenosis is called facet Facet arthrosis. This is a condition when the facet joints in the vertebrae degenerate and form arthritis.
Facet arhtrosis is usually a normal part of the aging process. Think of this as wear and tear on the joints in the spine over time. Trauma can also lead to facet arthrosis from a car accident, injury, a fall or a sports injury.
As the facet joints wear in tear and degenerate on each other new calcium deposits form causing a new bone formation in facet joints. This begins to narrow the canals in the spine causing spinal stenosis.
Thickening or hypertrophy of ligaments. Ligaments inside your spinal canal’s can thicken or grow too big leading to spinal stenosis. This is usually something that happens with age or to people who use their spine a lot either with their jobs or through their regular activities of daily living.
Tumors. Tumors in the spine can can press on the spinal cord or nerve roots that exit the spinal cord feeding the arms and legs with nerve distribution.
Injuries to the spine. Tramas such as car accidents can cause small fractures or dislocations in the vertebrae in the spine. The displaced bones then narrows the canals of the spinal cord and exiting nerve roots causing spinal stenosis. This can be considered a medical emergency in some instances and may require immediate surgery.
What are the symptoms of spinal stenosis?
Symptoms that I have seen while providing treatment for spinal stenosis in my Raliegh, NC clinic include pain in the neck, mid or lower back. There is usually radiating pain, numbness and tingling into the arms or legs.
Spinal stenosis can progress to a point that the spinal cord and nerves in the spine become compressed so much that they one can lose strength and sensation in the arms hands legs or feet.
In severe cases, spinal stenosis can cause problems with balance, walking and even bowel and bladder dysfunction.
Can a chiropractor treat spinal stenosis?
Chiropractic care for the treatment of spinal stenosis helps improve flexibility, mobility, and ranges of motion of the vertebrae in the spine. Chiropractors like myself also perform physical therapy within the greater treatment plan for spinal stenosis to reduce swelling and inflammation in tissues which may be contributing to stenosis.
Some forms of stenosis respond very well to specific exercises which aim to increase the flexibility and mobility in a region of the spine where spinal stenosis is narrowing the canals. This combined with chiropractic adjustments aimed at increasing the flexibility and range of motion of specific vertebrae can be a very effective treatment for back and neck pain related to spinal stenosis.
If you are looking for spinal stenosis treatment options in Raleigh, NC, book an appointment today.