• Dr. Mark Freund

Low Back Pain and Spinal Stenosis


low back pain and spinal stenosis

What Is Spinal Stenosis?

Spinal stenosis is compressing and narrowing of the spinal cord, which can cause back pain. It involves narrowing of the nerve roots that spread from the spinal cord and constricts one or more areas of the spine. Less space in the spine can reduce the ability of nerve fibers to connect with each other and the rest of the body.


Lower Back Pain and Lumbar Stenosis

Lumbar canal stenosis is a narrowing of the vertebral canal tunnel through which nerves and other structures communicate with the canal. It is the most common cause of back pain in older adults and adolescents, but it can also occur in people with spinal cord injuries.


Symptoms of Spinal Stenosis

symptoms of spinal stenosis

Spinal stenosis develops slowly, and you may not have symptoms until changes to the spine occur. The first symptoms may be pain, stiffness, numbness, tingling, muscle weakness, or stiffness in the back, depending on the location of the stenosis. Spinal stenosis, where it occurs, causes the space between the spinal cord and nerve roots to narrow, leaving the spine no room for it to root itself.


Depending on where and how severe the spinal stenosis is, there may also be a tingling sensation in the back or neck. Not just that, you may also feel pangs of pain in the neck.


The nerve root of the spinal cord can be compressed or pinched, causing symptoms such as back pain and sciatica. It can also cause pain in other parts of the body, such as the lower back and neck. Symptoms vary from person to person, and they can come and go and vary in severity from day to day, week to week, month to month or year to year. Symptoms of lumbar stenosis are pain in the lower back, neck, shoulders, hips, knees, and back. They may also include pain, stiffness, numbness, muscle spasms, and loss of balance or coordination.


suffering from low back pain

Lumbar stenosis can cause pain in the lower back, neck, shoulders, hips, legs, feet, and other parts of the body. Pain can start in the buttocks and can continue up to the legs and feet. A painful feeling in the legs can lead to cramps in one leg or the other. If you walk for a long time, walk uphill, or slightly bend forward, the pain may get worse.


Causes of Spinal Stenosis

Age and changes in the spine are two of the most common causes of Spinal Stenos. Other causes of spinal stenosis are as follows:


Osteoarthritis

Osteoarthritis or wear and tear in the spine occur naturally with age. It is commonly caused by the loss of nerve fibers due to injury or damage to the spinal cord and nerves, as well as the wearing down of the bone and cartilage. Osteoarthritis breaks down the cartilage in the joints, including the spine.


Cartilage is the protective tissue cover around the joints, and when it wears out, the bones start rubbing against each other, and the body reacts by growing new bones.


Bone Spurs

explaining spinal issues

Paget's bone disease can also be caused by excessive bone build-up in the spine, which compresses the nerves. Bone spurs and their overgrowth are common as well as results in narrowing the space between the vertebrae.


Herniated Discs

Herniated discs and bone spurs are the two most common causes of spinal stenosis, and both cause pain. The bulging intervertebral disc then pushes nerves into and out of the intervertebral disc, which can cause severe pain in the back and spinal cord. Inside each vertebra is a flat, round cushion of discs that acts as a shock absorber in the spine. The gel in the center of the spaces causes the weak, cracked outer layer to break and chip off. This causes the outer edges of these discs to break and their herniated discs to bulge out, causing pain.


Scoliosis

Another congenital spinal deformity that can put a person at risk for spinal stenosis is scoliosis, commonly known as an abnormally shaped spine. These ligaments penetrate the spinal canal and thicken over time. They can narrow the space of the spinal cord and put pressure on its nerves. Broken or dislocated bones, as caused by damage to the spine, can further narrow the space of the canals and put pressure on the nerves of the spine, causing severe pain. They are also responsible for lower back pain.

The narrowing of the spinal canal is usually a slow process and gets worse over time, so you may not have symptoms until it develops. Always keep in mind that it can occur anywhere in the spine.


Treatment

Treatment depends on the type of spinal stenosis, the severity of the pain, underlying causes and symptoms, and other factors such as age. Specific conditions that affect physical activity, diet, and lifestyle are also taken into account to determine the stenosis treatment that is tailored to the patient’s unique condition. Treatment usually starts with non-surgical options as they are safe and offer a natural pain-free approach.

physical therapist examining patient back

Although there is currently no cure for spinal stenosis, you can do exercises through Physical therapy sessions to keep your spine strong, improve mobility, and reduce pain. If your symptoms are mild, your doctor will initially recommend self-help drugs, but if this does not work, they will recommend other forms of chiropractic treatments to avoid surgery as an option should symptoms worsen.

Now the question is, how is spinal stenosis treated?

Physical therapy

physical therapy for low back pain

Your physiotherapist will develop a back health program for you that will help you gain strength and improve the balance, mobility, and stability of your spine. Strengthening of the back, core, and abdominal muscles helps make the spine more resilient. Your physiotherapist will teach you mobility exercises that help reduce pressure on the nerves. Outpatient procedures, also known as percutaneous imaging-guided decompression of the lumbar spine – are specifically treated for those caused by lumbar spinal stenosis, as well as for those with other types of back pain. Always check with your provider before starting an exercise program.


Alternative Therapies

Alternative therapies are becoming increasingly popular and are used to treat different types of pain. Treatments such as acupuncture and chiropractic care can relieve pain in people with spinal stenosis and other types of back pain. However, it is important to remember that alternative therapies cannot improve the narrowing of the spinal canal in people with back stenosis and other types of back pain. Acupuncture and chiropractic manipulation can relieve mild pain in people with spinal stenosis. Visit Natural Care Chiropractic to understand what is causing your back pain and find out more about alternative treatments for spinal stenosis to address varying symptoms such as lower back pain and neck pain.


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