Spinal Stenosis is a condition in which your spinal canal starts to narrow which can cause pain and other problems. For most people, the Stenosis results from changes because of arthritis. The spinal canal may narrow. The open spaces between the vertebrae may start to get smaller. The tightness can pinch the spinal cord or the nerves around it, causing pain, tingling, or numbness in your legs, arms, or torso.
- Herniated discs. If the cushions are cracked, a material can seep out and press on your spinal cord or nerve
- Injuries. An accident may fracture or inflame part of your spine.
- Tumors. If cancerous growths touch the spinal cord, you may get stenosis.
- Paget’s disease. Bones grow abnormally large and brittle. The result is a narrowing of the spinal canal and nerve problems.
- Thickened ligaments. The tough cords that help hold the bones of your spine together can become stiff and thickened over time. These thickened ligaments can bulge into the spinal canal.
- Numbness or tingling in a hand, arm, foot or leg
- Weakness in a hand, arm, foot or leg
- Problems with walking and balance
- Neck pain
- In severe cases, bowel or bladder dysfunction (urinary urgency and incontinence)
- Numbness or tingling in a foot or leg
- Weakness in a foot or leg
- Pain or cramping in one or both legs when you stand for long periods of time or when you walk, which usually eases when you bend forward or sit
- Back pain
Examples of surgical procedures to treat spinal stenosis include:
- Laminectomy. This procedure removes the back part (lamina) of the affected vertebra. it eases the pressure on the nerves by creating more space around them.
- Laminotomy. This procedure removes only a portion of the lamina, typically carving a hole just big enough to relieve the pressure in a particular spot.
- Laminoplasty. This procedure is performed only on the vertebrae in the neck (cervical spine). It opens up space within the spinal canal by creating a hinge on the lamina. Metal hardware bridges the gap in the opened section of the spine.
- Minimally invasive surgery. This approach to surgery removes bone or lamina in a way that reduces the damage to nearby healthy tissue. This results in less need to do fusions.
- Massage therapy
- Chiropractic treatment
Tips for people with Spinal Stenosis:
Natural methods of treating Spinal Stenosis that don’t involve surgery can help manage your symptoms. While these treatments don’t change the spinal canal narrowing that has occurred, they can help to ease the pain and other symptoms caused by Spinal Stenosis. Some Spinal Stenosis tips mentioned here can help slow the degeneration that occurs in combination with the narrowing of the spinal canal. Consider the following strategies and treatments for Spinal Stenosis and see which ones might be right for you:
- Rest when you need to and use support. Initially, some people with Spinal Stenosis find some degree of relief by sitting down or by leaning forward. This gives the nerves more room in the spinal canal and decreases pain and pressure. Lean on a cart when shopping, or take frequent rest breaks to sit down and rest when walking.
- Try physical therapy. Certain strengthening and stretching exercises often help the symptoms. Massage can also help. You can learn ways to stand that can relieve pressure on your back and take pressure off the nerves. For example, tilting your pelvis forward which flattens the curve in your lower back.
- Exercise regularly. Flex your body forward, move slowly and avoid jerking, jarring or straining your back. Swimming or riding a stationary bicycle are great forms of exercise for Spinal Stenosis. Avoid exercises like jogging, which jars the spine.
- Strengthen the core muscles of your back and abdomen. Don’t forget your buttocks and thighs. These muscles help you maintain your posture which reduces strain, fatigue, and muscle tension.
- Functional Disc Re-hydration has worked to relieve the symptoms of people with back pain using compression and traction. This isn’t for everyone and care must be used for people with herniated discs and osteoporosis. It’s often used with physical therapy to re-hydrate discs that are causing back pain.
- If you’re a smoker, quit as soon as you can. Smoking can speed up the process of disc degeneration.
- Add an abundance of anti-inflammatory foods to your diet. These include fatty fish such as herring and salmon and consider taking supplements that contain high-quality fish oil. This will ensure your body has plenty of omega-3 fatty acids. Other anti-inflammatory foods include ginger, and curcumin, also sometimes called tumeric. Bromelain, which is found in pineapple, papain, from papayas, nattokinase, from soybeans, and serrapeptase which is a silkworm enzyme, and these are all anti-inflammatories as well.
- Maintain a normal body weight. This puts less stress on your spine and joints and decreases your risk for other health problems.