The nervous system has a major channel that runs through a cavity in the center of the spine. As the body ages, the cavity compresses, eventually putting pressure on the nerves housed in the spine. Spinal stenosis is related to degeneration in the spine and becomes significantly more noticeable as we age. It is a gradual process resulting in a decrease in physical activity and a forward flexed posture. The condition does not have a cure, but help is available to relieve the pain and the pressure.
What Is Spinal Stenosis?
The cavity that houses the nerves in the spine sends messages to the brain and helps protect the spine to keep the body functioning. As the spinal cavity compresses, the patient may be feeling pain, tingles or even a numbness in the legs. A pinching sensation can also occur. Spaces between the vertebrae will gradually become smaller leading to pain in the torso.
What Causes It?
While some people are born with a narrow spine, most cases of spinal stenosis are the result of osteoarthritis. When the alignment does not sit well, the vertebrae form osteophytes or bone spurs. These odd growths on the bone cause the spinal canal to compress over time and damage nerves.
Other causes of spinal stenosis can include:
● A former injury or major surgery on the spine
● Slumping or walking with poor posture
● Cysts or tumors in the body
● A damaged disc in the spine
● A thickening of the ligaments that surround the spine
People over 50 are commonly afflicted with this condition. Proper posture, not sitting for long periods of time and staying active can help delay the onset of the condition.
What Are the Symptoms?
One of the most obvious symptoms of spinal stenosis is a pain while walking, particularly up and down stairs. In some extreme cases, the problem can affect the bladder and bowels as well as sexual function. Tingling and pain are also common.
Worse cases can also feel radiating pain, numbness in the arms and hands and overall weakness in the body. In extreme cases, the body can experience complete paralysis. These more extreme situations can be caused by the spine canal becoming extremely narrow.
How Is It Treated?
Spinal adjustment, decompression therapy and traction methods all help with the pain and numbness. Exercises in conjunction with chiropractic visits can significantly reduce the symptoms. A full assessment of the patient is essential before beginning treatment.
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