- 1 Understanding Spinal Stenosis
- 2 Risk Factors of Spinal Stenosis
- 3 What are the Medical Causes of Spinal Stenosis?
- 4 What are the Symptoms of Spinal Stenosis?
- 5 How is Spinal Stenosis Diagnosed?
- 6 Spinal Stenosis Treatments
- 7 Surgery for Spinal Stenosis
- 8 Natural Remedies for Spinal Stenosis
- 9 NUCCA Treatment for Spinal Stenosis
- 10 Takeaway
Spinal stenosis is a medical condition wherein the nerves in an individual’s spine become compressed. This health issue can cause a range of symptoms, which includes weakness, numbness, and pain in various areas of the body. In this article, we will focus on what this condition is as well as the available spinal stenosis treatments and natural remedies.
Understanding Spinal Stenosis
Before discussing the treatments for this condition, it is first important to answer what is spinal stenosis. When you have this health issue, it means that the gaps found between your spinal bones or vertebrae begin to narrow.
Such narrowing of the gaps consequently compresses your spinal canal. When this happens, the nerve roots and the spinal cord are pinched. What you will feel resulting from this is pain, numbness, and weakness in different body parts. However, the discomforts are commonly felt in the feet and legs.
Our vertebrae consist of thirty-three bones connecting to form our spinal canal. This canal is the tunnel with which the spinal cord passes through. Our spinal cord extends from the skull’s base going down through our lower back. The spinal cord then branches out into numerous nerve roots at the base. It is through the gaps in our vertebrae that the nerves can branch out from the spinal canal.
Risk Factors of Spinal Stenosis
Individuals who have spinal stenosis have had it since birth or as a result of age or other medical conditions. People with congenital spinal stenosis were born with a spinal canal that is smaller than normal. Individuals who are at risk of developing this condition are those who have scoliosis have had spinal injuries or surgeries, and those who have excess calcium or fluoride in their body.
What are the Medical Causes of Spinal Stenosis?
Among the most common causes of spinal stenosis that is not congenital is osteoarthritis. This medical condition is a type of arthritis that is degenerative. It can cause eventual changes to the person’s spine as well as the other surrounding structures. These changes continue as the individual ages.
The changes that our bodies go through as we age may cause some form of compression in our spinal canal. It may be the development of spurs or bone growths on your vertebrae, inflammation, and degeneration of your joints between your vertebrae, and when the ligaments supporting the spine begin to thicken.
There are also types of arthritis that can cause an individual to have spinal stenosis. These are Paget’s disease, ankylosing spondylitis, and rheumatoid arthritis. Other health issues can cause a person to suffer from this condition. This includes scoliosis and a tumor found in the spinal cord or other areas of the spine.
What are the Symptoms of Spinal Stenosis?
Individuals who are suffering from spinal stenosis may experience symptoms such as cramps, weakness, numbness, and severe pain in the feet or legs. At first, the signs that an individual with spinal stenosis will feel are only mild. However, if it is left untreated, then it will get worse as time goes on.
If the case of spinal stenosis that you have is severe, you may even experience complete or partial paralysis in the legs. Remember that if it has come to this, it is already a medical emergency. Call for an ambulance immediately and seek medical attention.
Some individuals may develop another kind of spinal stenosis, which is called cauda equine syndrome or CES. This condition is when the nerve roots found at the spine’s base becomes affected. It is a severe condition. If this is left untreated, then the paralysis may become permanent. Incontinence will also be a problem. Here are the symptoms of CES:
- Inability to function sexually
- Not feeling any sensation in the inner thighs, anus, and genitals
- Abnormal bowel or bladder function
- Difficulty in walking
- Weakness in either or both legs
- Sciatic nerve pain going down the legs
How is Spinal Stenosis Diagnosed?
To be able to diagnose if a person has spinal stenosis, the physician will be asking the individual about his or her medical history as well as the symptoms present. A physical examination will also be performed. Some of the other tests that can help confirm the diagnosis of this medical condition are X-rays of the spine, CT scan or MRI, myelogram test, and an electromyogram. The physician may need other tests like blood tests to ensure that no other underlying health conditions are causing the symptoms.
Spinal Stenosis Treatments
This health problem can become worse over time if the individual doesn’t seek treatment. If you have this condition, you have to understand first that there is still no known cure for it. However, there are several treatments available so that the condition can be stabilized and the symptoms you’re experiencing can be alleviated.
Pain medications are one of the treatment options that you have that can help address the symptoms. Some of the pain meds that may be prescribed to you by your doctor are nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and acetaminophen. If the symptoms are severe, you may be given opioids as a stronger pain medication. Muscle relaxants can also help in alleviating muscle cramps and spasms that can be very painful. Also, steroid injections can reduce the inflammation in your spinal cord.
Surgery for Spinal Stenosis
There are cases of spinal stenosis where the individual may need to undergo a surgery called spinal decompression surgery. This procedure is done so that the worsening symptoms may be alleviated. The operation is done by removing the bony growths as well as any inflamed tissue found in the spinal canal. This will free up space for the spinal cord and the nerves.
The surgery may be performed as a minimally invasive procedure. However, there may be cases where an open spine surgery will be necessary. It depends from case to case. Your doctor will talk to you about the options that you have and whether you need a surgical procedure for your spinal stenosis.
As for the minimally invasive surgery, the surgeon will be using a small camera along with other instruments for surgery and putting it through an incision. This procedure will cause less damage to the body’s soft tissues and muscles. There is also a lower risk of infection with this surgical procedure.
Natural Remedies for Spinal Stenosis
Surgery is only a last resort for really serious cases of spinal stenosis. Most of the people who have spinal stenosis can benefit significantly from natural remedies such as exercise. If you get regular exercise and also try physical therapy, your muscles in the legs, arms, and back will be stronger, and your body will be more flexible. You will enjoy better balance as well as mobility.
It is recommended that you get at least a thirty-minute exercise routine thrice a week. During these sessions, you ought to perform flexion-based movements such as bending your lower back. When you have been able to strengthen your back, you may then add other activities like swimming and walking.
NUCCA Treatment for Spinal Stenosis
NUCCA means National Upper Cervical Chiropractic Association. NUCCA treatment is a kind of procedure that is gentle, non-invasive, and precise. It helps to free the nervous system of any interference. NUCCA treatment for spinal stenosis is also an option if you have this health condition. It will help in improving the way that your central nervous system functions.
With this procedure, the doctor will be getting X-rays of your head and neck to see where the problem is. After that, precise mathematical measurements, as well as analysis, are done so that the misalignment may be corrected. Once the correction of the misalignment is done, the bones will be back to the normal position. You will then be able to feel that you can function normally again.
Spinal stenosis is a health condition that shouldn’t be ignored as its symptoms will get worse if you do not seek treatment. If you are experiencing any of the symptoms of spinal stenosis mentioned here, you should talk to your doctor so that you can discuss which treatment options are best for spinal stenosis.
While there is no cure for spinal stenosis, the treatments or a combination of them can help in alleviating the discomforts that you feel. Spinal stenosis treatment and natural remedies are some of your options for addressing this health condition. Before performing any exercise routine, do consult with your doctor first.
Dr. Tymothy L. Flory graduated from Logan College of Chiropractic in St. Louis, Missouri. Before opening Atlas Brain Spine, Dr. Flory practiced Upper Cervical Chiropractic in Seattle, Washington. Dr. Flory completed Board Certification of the National Upper Cervical Chiropractic Association in 2012 and is currently a Credentialed Instructor for the organization.