Many of my patients are diagnosed with Spinal Stenosis. It is a condition that can affect the back, buttocks, legs, neck, and arms. Spinal Stenosis is caused by a narrowing of the spinal canal that causes pressure on the spinal cord, or narrowing of the openings where spinal nerves leave the spinal column.
Spinal Stenosis usually occurs as a person ages. In our maturing years, the discs of the spine tend to deteriorate and the bones and ligaments tend to enlarge or thicken. As a result, there can be pressure on surrounding structures, including the nerves. Spinal Stenosis can also be caused by arthritis, birth defects, injury, and bone diseases.
Symptoms of Spinal Stenosis include pain, numbness, cramping or weakness in the back, buttocks, thighs, calves, or in the neck, shoulders or arms. These symptoms usually get worse while standing or walking, and many with this condition cannot walk for long periods of time. They may be relieved by sitting or leaning forward. In some cases, there can be difficulty with balance when walking, as well as problems with urination or bowel movements. Symptoms often worsen gradually over time.
Diagnosis involves a thorough physical exam, including an evaluation of range of motion, positional weakness, muscle tone, and nerve function. Confirmation requires spinal xrays, CT scan, or MRI.
Treatment for Spinal Stenosis includes using a combination of Osteopathic Manipulation, Acupuncture, and Spinal Decompression. If the stenosis is caused by disc deterioration, (bulging, herniation, or rupture of a disc) then these treatments have a very high success rate.
The Osteopathic Manipulation restores the spine to its normal position, removing any mechanical restrictions that may be contributing to the Stenosis symptoms. Acupuncture is employed to calm inflammation, reduce pain, enhance nerve function, and promote healing.
Spinal Decompression therapy addresses the Stenosis by applying intermittent distraction to the spinal area involved. This distraction gently pulls the spine apart, elongating it and creating a small vacuum between the vertebrae. In turn, this pulls on the damaged disc, drawing it back into shape. The distraction pressure, repeated over a series of treatments, restores nutrition and hydration to the disc. As the disc returns to its original condition, pressure on the nerves is relieved.
If the Spinal Stenosis is severe, and pressing directly against the spinal cord, then epidural steroids may be useful. Sometimes, surgery is required.
If you suffer with the symptoms mentioned above, or have already been diagnosed with Spinal Stenosis, please see us for an assessment of your condition and recommendations for conservative, non-surgical approaches that are right for you.