Stenosis is the abnormal narrowing of a body channel, and spinal stenosis is when the bony canal that encloses the spinal cord becomes more narrow. This condition puts pressure on the spinal cord, which interferes with the flow of messages from the brain to wherever the impacted nerves are going, and results in the body functioning at less than 100% of its capability.
Most spinal stenosis develops due to degeneration in the spine, often as a result of vertebral subluxations – misalignments of the spine that cause nerve pressure – that are left untreated. Narrowing of the spinal canal can impact many parts of the spine, including vertebrae, disks, ligaments, joints, and nerve roots. Someone with this condition may notice radiating pain, weakness, numbness, difficulty moving limbs, or “pins and needles” sensation in the extremities.
If you are suffering from spinal stenosis, or other neck or back pain, and are interested in finding relief without potentially harmful drugs or surgery, contact us online at our Fort Collins office or call us at (970) 377-3557 to learn more about how we can help.
Causes of Spinal Stenosis
Spinal stenosis is most often seen in individuals over 50 years of age, but can also occur in younger people due to spinal injuries or scoliosis. Some other causes of this disorder include:
- Untreated subluxations
- Herniated discs
- Bone spurs
- Arthritis: osteoarthritis, which causes bone degeneration, or rheumatoid arthritis, which causes painful inflammation in the joints
- Tumors inside the spinal canal
- Thickening of the spinal ligaments
- Degeneration of the bone or cartilage in the spine
- Traumatic injury to the vertebrae
- The spinal canal is too small at birth
- Structural deformities of the vertebrae
- Paget’s disease of bone, which causes enlarged or abnormal bones
Types and Related Symptoms
Spinal stenosis can occur in any area of the spine, but are most common in the lumbar (low back) region and the cervical (neck) area. Thoracic (mid back) spinal stenosis is much less common.
Lumbar stenosis compresses the nerve roots in the lower back which can lead to sciatica, numbness or pain in the legs, low back pain, muscle weakness, muscle spasms, cramping, limping, and in extreme cases, bladder and/or bowel disfunction.
Cervical spinal stenosis compresses the spinal cord itself and can be far more dangerous. Cervical stenosis may lead to a serious condition causing symptoms including major body weakness and paralysis known as myelopathy. Someone may also experience pain or numbness in the neck and shoulders, or muscle spasms, weakness, and reduced function in the arms.
Many cases of spinal stenosis can be handled through non-invasive treatment so as to avoid unnecessary surgery and harmful drugs. Mild and moderate cases have been shown to significantly benefit from chiropractic care. Our Chiropractor can conduct a thorough examination of your skeletal system, take x-rays of your spine, analyze your health history, and determine if the root cause of your problem is something we can actually help with, not merely relieve your symptoms. If your condition is caused or aggravated by a spinal misalignment, our Chiropractor can perform the necessary chiropractic adjustments to correct the problem as well as prescribe exercises, therapies, and other wellness measures to help you keep your spine healthy and functioning properly. And, since nerve impairment can also cause other health problems, these adjustments and other techniques can also help you maintain your overall health.
The specifics of your chiropractic care plan are particular to your examination results, your pain level, your overall health and activity levels, and your chiropractor’s best recommendations for care. As every patient should with any treatment plan, ask questions and engage in learning about how your body works and how it breaks down so you can understand how to best take care of it. Get your best results by being an educated, involved member of your health care team.