Spinal stenosis – an overview

By avn
11:10 am Posted June 4, 2016
In Spinal Stenosis

The spine that constitutes of 26 bones in your back is the reason you are able to stand up straight and bend over. It also protects your spinal cord from being hurt. Spinal stenosis refers to the narrowing of the spinal canal which results in an increase in pressure on the spinal cord and the nerves that travels through the spine and into your arms and legs.

Spinal Stenosis

In people with spinal stenosis, the spine is narrowed in one or more of three parts:

  • The space at the center of the spine
  • The canals where nerves branch out from the spine
  • The space between vertebrae (the bones of the spine).

Causes

Spinal stenosis is most common in people over the age of 50. Young adults who were born with a narrow spinal canal or who hurt their spines may also get spinal stenosis.

The most common causes include

    • Bone spurs

The wear and tear from osteoarthritis on your spinal bones can result in the formation of bone spurs which tend to grow into the spinal canal.

    • Herniated discs

The intervertebral discs that act as a shock absorber between the vertebrae may herniate and press onto the spinal cord and nerves.

    • Thickened ligaments

The tough cords that hold the bones of the spine together may grow stiff and thicken over time thereby protruding into the spinal canal.

    • Tumors

Abnormal growth may be found inside the spinal cord, within the membranes that cover the spinal cord or in the space between the spinal cord and the vertebrae.

    • Spinal injuries

Major trauma can cause fracture or dislocation of one or more of the vertebrae. This displaced bone from a spinal fracture may damage the contents of the spinal canal. Swelling up of the tissues immediately after a surgery may also add pressure on the spinal cord and the nerves.

symptoms

There may be no symptoms of spinal stenosis, or symptoms may appear gradually and worden over time. These include :

  • Pain in the neck or back
  • Numbness, weakness, cramping, or pain in the arms or legs
  • Pain going down the leg
  • Foot problems.

The treatment of spinal stenosis may vary basis the location of the stenosis and the severity of the symptoms. The conservative treatment used to treat spinal stenosis initially include pain killers, anti-depressants & muscle relaxants.

Spinal stenosis tends to interfere with the daily routine of those who suffer. This will result in them becoming a lot less active which is not recommended since being inactive tends to weaken the muscles and causes more pain as a result. Therapy helps remain active and build endurance and strength. Over time, it also tends to strengthen the spine and increase flexibility. Yoga is an excellent form of therapy that has proven extremely effective. Ayurveda is yet another alternative that promises effective pain relief in a holistic way without any side effects.

In rare scenarios, when none of the above treatments yield results, and the pain is extremely debilitating and effects everyday life, surgery is considered as a last choice to help with pain relief.

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