Spinal Stenosis Guide: from Symptoms to Solutions

Spinal Stenosis Guide: from Symptoms to Solutions | The Enterprise World

In this easy-to-digest guide, we will explore all there is to know about spinal stenosis. This condition most commonly occurs in the lower back (lumbar) and the neck (cervical), causing pain, a lack of mobility, and other symptoms. 

We will focus on how this condition can be treated in terms of both medical intervention and changes you can make to your lifestyle to ease the symptoms and reduce pain.

Spinal Stenosis: What is it?

Spinal Stenosis Guide: from Symptoms to Solutions | The Enterprise World

Spinal Stenosis is a term used for the narrowing of the spinal canal, this can occur anywhere along the spine but is most common in the neck and lower back. This narrowing causes pressure on the spinal cord and the nerves that run through the spinal canal to the muscles, resulting in a range of symptoms such as pain and numbness. 

Common Symptoms Of Spinal Stenosis

Symptoms can often vary from person to person, with some people just experiencing a couple of minor symptoms, while others may experience a range of symptoms that can have a big impact on their daily life. 

Common spinal stenosis symptoms can include:

  • Pain in the back, neck, buttocks, legs, shoulders, or arms.
  • Numbness in the above areas.
  • A tingling sensation in the above areas.
  • Weakness in the above areas.
  • A lack of mobility and flexibility in the back.
  • Loss of bowel and bladder control (rare).

Similar Spinal Conditions You Should Be Aware Of

Spinal Stenosis Guide: from Symptoms to Solutions | The Enterprise World
  • Herniated Discs – Spinal discs are soft cushions of tissue that sit between the bones of the spine (vertebrae), acting as shock absorbers whenever a person moves. Sometimes, the tissue can bulge out of the disc’s protective casing, coming into contact with the surrounding nerves.
  • Spondylolisthesis – This condition is the result of a vertebrae slipping forward over the adjacent bone, applying pressure on the surrounding nerves. This can cause pain that can spread to the legs and tighten the muscles in the affected area.
  • Degenerative Disc Disease – Over time, the discs in the spine can deteriorate, becoming less effective as a person grows older and causing pain, stiffness in the back, and possible nerve aggravation. 

Solutions for Spinal Stenosis

Your doctor will likely recommend more than one Spinal stenosis treatment to relieve symptoms and hopefully provide a long-term cure. Medical treatments can range from taking regular medication to physical therapy, and maybe even painkilling injections to provide short-term relief. In many cases, these treatments will help a person recover over time but a person should also make a number of lifestyle changes to improve their chances of success.

If a person’s symptoms do not subside or worse after a long period of time, then the next option may be surgery to provide a permanent solution. Below are the possible treatments that someone suffering from spinal stenosis will likely try before surgery is considered. 

  • NSAIDs – Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are a form of medication that is effective at relieving pain, including pain caused by spinal stenosis and other back issues. They help to reduce high temperatures and inflammation.
  • Painkillers – Standard over-the-counter painkillers may also be prescribed if the level of pain is not too severe.
  • Physical Therapy – Spinal stenosis sufferers may be referred to a physical therapist who can work with them to improve their muscle strength and overall flexibility and mobility. This can be achieved with gentle exercises and regular stretching, eventually reducing pain symptoms naturally.
  • Pain-killing Injections – To provide short-term relief for severe pain, a doctor may refer a patient to receive pain-killing injections, such as epidural steroid injections and nerve-blocking injections. Epidural injections administer corticosteroids to the spinal cord to reduce inflammation, while nerve-blocking injections stop pain signals that are released by the nerves.
  • Back Supports – To provide extra stability, a person with spinal stenosis may be advised to wear a back brace/ spine support. 

Lifestyle Changes

A person with spinal stenosis will be advised to make certain lifestyle changes to help speed up recovery. These changes will likely be combined with one or more of the treatments above. 

A common recommendation is to maintain a healthier diet to help lose weight. Anyone who is carrying extra pounds or is obese is prone to back problems due to the extra weight their spine needs to bear. By shedding this weight, the spine is under less pressure and can heal more effectively. 

Staying active is also recommended, with people with spinal stenosis asked to do gentle exercises such as walking, swimming, or cycling. This can encourage flexibility in the spine, help to reduce weight, and ease pain. 

Alternative Treatments and Self Care

Spinal Stenosis Guide: from Symptoms to Solutions | The Enterprise World

Alternatives to traditional medical treatments for spinal stenosis include chiropractic care and acupuncture, although both of these treatments can be accessed by most medical institutions. Chiropractic care helps to ensure the back is as flexible as possible, while acupuncture has shown positive effects in terms of managing pain. Massage therapy can also help to reduce spinal stenosis symptoms, although you should always consult with your doctor before going down this route. 

Exercises such as yoga and pilates are also considered helpful in terms of improving spine health. 

What to avoid if you have Spinal Stenosis?

Anyone who has spinal stenosis should be careful to avoid activities that could cause further damage to their back. This can include heavy lifting, sports, and exercises that exert a lot of pressure such as weightlifting. Individuals should also avoid fatty foods that could contribute to inflammation. 

Spinal Stenosis: Surgical Solutions

There are a number of surgeries that could be performed to create more space in the spinal canal and cure the symptoms of spinal stenosis. Laminectomies and laminotomies are two options that remove part of the vertebrae known as the lamina. This provides more space for the nerves and spinal cord so there is no impingement. Discectomies remove part of the disc’s tissue that sits between the vertebrae, offering the same relief. 

To provide more stability, these operations are often twinned with spinal fusion, a surgery that fuses together the vertebrae with a bone graft. Unfortunately, this can lead to a lack of mobility, stopping patients from enjoying certain activities and leading an active lifestyle. This is why new devices such as mechanical spinal implants are growing in popularity. 

Thank you for reading. We hope this article has provided you with some valuable insights into this common back condition. 

Did You like the post? Share it now: