What Is Spinal Stenosis?
Spinal stenosis is a term used to describe a narrowing of your spinal canal. Between each vertebra (your spinal bones) you have foramen or holes where nerves leave the spinal canal to innervate your trunk and limbs.
These nerves give you strength, proprioception, and sensation to your limbs. However, when the canal where the nerves become narrowed (stenotic), you can get pain down your legs or arms, loss of balance, and weakness in your extremities.
What Causes Spinal Stenosis?
The cause of spinal stenosis is multifactorial. However, there are two main reasons why your nerve might be getting compressed.
One: Your Discs Have Shrunk…
Believe it or not, we shrink in height as we age. This is because our discs that lie between our spinal bones become dehydrated and can no longer swell. This causes compression and narrowing of the spinal canal where the nerves lie.
Watch this quick video of Dr. Scott describing this phenomenon.
Two: You Have Tightness & Weakness…
The other form of stenosis that we see is due to muscle weakness and tightness. The patient tends to have weakness of their abdominal muscles and tightness in their back muscles. This causes compression to the spine.
These types of patients do really well with treatment because they have things they can improve upon.
Watch this quick video of Dr. Gray showing how tightness and weakness can cause spinal stenosis symptoms.
Symptoms of Spinal Stenosis…
Do you have pain down the back of your leg? Weakness? Loss of sensation?
These are usually the signs and symptoms of spinal stenosis. However, when it has progressed you may have more complex symptoms such as loss of bowel and bladder movements.
Do You Have Spinal Stenosis?
This is the million-dollar question. Many types of diseases and pathologies can mimic spinal stenosis. For this reason, seeing a qualified medical provider is crucial for the appropriate treatment and care.
For instance, sciatica, which is different from spinal stenosis has many of the same symptoms. Yet, the treatment is entirely different.
Similarly, many red flag conditions such as neuropathy and cancer can mimic spinal stenosis.
How to Discern If You Have It…..
Generally speaking, if you have increased in symptoms when standing on your feet for prolonged periods of time or when walking, you may have spinal stenosis.
Usually lying down or sitting down will alleviate your symptoms but standing will further exacerbate them.
What You Can Do For Spinal Stenosis…
Contrary to common belief, you can treat spinal stenosis conservatively. The treatment included patient education, strengthening of muscles around the spine and pelvis, and opening of your spinal canal with gentle hands-on techniques.
Sometimes, granted, patients may benefit from surgery to decompress their spine. However, there is no guarantee that this procedure will work and you may find yourself worst off afterward.
To discern if you have spinal stenosis you can arrange an appointment with one of our experts by clicking here.