Spinal Stenosis: What Are Your Non-Surgical Options?
Between 250,000 and 500,000 people in the U.S. develop symptoms of spinal stenosis. This reflects approximately 5 out of every 10 people over 50 and 1 in 1000 individuals over 65. Indeed, it’s easy to say that most people over 60 have at least some form of spinal stenosis regardless of whether it is moderate or severe.
But what is this condition and how will it impact your life? Understanding the causes of this condition and the symptoms will help you find the best possible treatment option. It will ensure that you are able to live a life free from pain and suffering and hopefully keep the condition from becoming worse over time.
What Is Spinal Stenosis?Spinal stenosis develops when spaces within your spine narrow. Nerves travel through the spaces in your spine to different parts of your body, controlling everything that happens in your body. When the space narrows, this creates pressure on the nerves which can cause pain, numbness or tingling. Worse, it may not cause any immediate symptom, but can still impact everything that is controlled by that nerve.
Types Of Spinal StenosisThere are two types of this spinal stenosis. The type is determined based on where the condition develops and it is possible to have both.
Cervical Stenosis - Here, narrowing occurs in the part of the spine within your neck.
It’s quite common for evidence of spinal stenosis to be apparent on an MRI or CT without symptoms. You may get an MRI or CT scan for an unrelated condition and you may find that you've already developed some form of foraminal narrowing, more commonly called spinal stenosis. Symptoms will often develop gradually and then grow worse over time. The symptoms can also differ depending on the specific spinal level and area of the vertebra that is impacted.In The Back
Symptoms may include numbness in the foot or leg as well as weakness. It’s common to develop pain in both legs, particularly when walking and you may have associated back pain. In some cases, bowel or bladder dysfunction may be present.
In The Neck
Numbness, tingling, and weakness can be apparent in the arms or hands. This is a tell-tale sign of spinal stenosis - problems affecting both sides of the body. The narrowing of the spinal cord will affect both side, although it may not be affected equally.
Causes Of Spinal Stenosis
There are various different causes of the condition including bones that have overgrown and discs that have herniated. In certain cases, the condition may be caused by ligaments thickening or even tumors inside the spinal cord. This is one of the reasons why it’s important to get checked out if you notice symptoms. Spinal injuries may also result in the development of this condition.
Diagnosis of Spinal Stenosis
If you have any of the symptoms of this condition, your doctor will perform a physical exam and take a medical history. We will explore your spinal ranges of motion and address test for nerve function. If we suspect you are suffering from this condition, then we may order an MRI, X-ray or CT scan. A bone scan may also be used to check for issues with a potential growth in your back. Spinal stenosis is not usually visible on x-ray, but x-ray may give insight into the severity of any degenerative changes in the spine.
Once a diagnosis has been provided your doctor will recommend the treatment options available to you for this condition. Each plan will plan will vary depending on the age and physical abilities of the patient, how severe the condition is, and any other limitations noted in your health history. Most often care will include specific chiropractic adjustments and spinal decompression therapy.
Treatment Options For Spinal Stenosis
There are various treatments and solutions if you are suffering from spinal stenosis. These treatments can help reduce levels of pain and discomfort that you may experience with this condition.
Research has shown that there are significant short and long term benefits of chiropractic care for patients suffering from spinal stenosis. One study divided participants into three individual groups. One group received medical treatment, another group exercises and the final group received treatment from professional chiropractors.
After two months the group that received professional support from chiropractors reported the greatest levels of improvements in both symptoms and general functions. After a longer period of time, the impact was comparable to the reduction in symptoms experienced by the medical group. This study highlights that chiropractic care can provide support to patients with spinal stenosis in both the short and long term.
One of the most important reasons to visit a chiropractor if you suffer from this condition is to ensure that it doesn’t get any worse. This is quite common with this condition. While it is difficult to reverse the damage caused by spinal stenosis, a chiropractor can often slow the progression. Since osteoarthritis and spinal degeneration occur when joints in the spine have had limited motion, chiropractic adjustments can restore normal function in the spine.
How Does This Work?
The treatments provided by a chiropractor will be focused on ensuring that proper alignment, movement, and function is maintained. This guarantees that messages can be transmitted through the nervous system without interference. As well as reducing pain, it helps make sure that functions of your body will continue normally.
A key element of this is to apply gentle adjustments to your spine. This will help ensure that the range of motion can be restored. It can also increase the space that your nervous system has to transmit messages. The right support here can also guarantee that weight is effectively distributed across the spine which will result in less pressure on the spinal joints.
You might have accidentally stumbled onto an example of the type of relief chiropractic care can provide in your daily life. If you suffer from this condition, you may have found leaning over or getting a stretch in your spine provides temporary pain relief. When your spine is lengthened, it provides an additional level of space. Chiropractic care can ensure that you gain similar space in your spine through recommended stretching and exercises provided as a part of your care program.
Identify and Address the Causes
Often, some or possibly all of the causes and symptoms of spinal stenosis are due to a misalignment of the neck or spine. Chiropractic care will often be involved in completing manipulations and adjustments to address issues here to alleviate symptoms.
Poor posture is another major cause of the condition and can certainly make symptoms far worse. With chiropractic care, you can learn how to improve your posture as well as strengthening your muscles. Bad posture can cause many health problems, but the degenerative changes in your spine that lead to spinal stenosis is often overlooked as a consequence.
Spinal stenosis can impact various functions of your body and make certain activities more difficult. This could include everything from walking or engaging in sports. With chiropractic care, you will be able to remain active and ensure that further deterioration of the muscles in the spine can be avoided completely.
Staying active can have a big impact on reducing the impact of spinal changes that affect nerves. Having good muscles reduces impact on spinal joints and keeping your body moving through different ranges of motion keeps spinal joints healthy.
Safe And Effective
Numerous studies have explored whether there could be any harmful effects of chiropractic care on patients suffering from spinal stenosis. Instead, these studies have highlighted the benefits with various research papers suggesting that chiropractic care does improve the quality of life for patients.
While there is no cure for this condition through chiropractic care symptoms can be effectively managed. Through this form of treatment pressure in the spine can be released. There are also a variety of techniques that can be explored including flexion distraction spinal manipulation. Another benefit of this is that it is fast working and patients often see improvements in a matter of weeks.
Some patients of chiropractic care state that they experience as much as a 50% reduction in pain levels after just one visit. They also state that the relief continues to improve even two years after the first treatment. While everyone is different, there is no reason to think you won’t see near-immediate changes to pain levels with this treatment.
Non-Surgical Spinal Decompression TherapyAnother potential treatment option is nonsurgical spinal decompression therapy. This can be used to relieve the symptoms of spinal stenosis including back pain. It may allow you to improve your quality of life and remain more active with this condition, without needing surgery. The treatment can also be used to treat neck weakness and tingling. All these issues are common with spinal stenosis.
With non-surgical decompression, motorized traction is used to relieve back pain. Similar to chiropractic care, the decompression works by gently and gradually stretching the spine. In doing so, the treatment provides more space for the nervous system and once again ensures that messages can be sent effectively.
This also helps to alter the position and force of the spine, removing pressure on the spinal discs. As bulging and disks often retract during this treatment structures like this are moved off the nerve. It can even help ensure that the spine can heal if there has already been significant deterioration due to this condition.
This is due to water, nutrients, and oxygen being able to move freely to different areas of the spine.
How Does This Work?
Spinal Decompression is completely noninvasive. During this treatment, you may fall asleep because of how comfortable you feel. Our Back on Trac spinal decompression tables look more like a recliner and do not turn you upside-down to achieve the necessary movement.
Treatment will typically last up to 15 minutes for one session. Patients will often complete multiple sessions with the total number of sessions based on the severity of the problem and other factors specific to you as a person. This can often be coupled with other treatment options including electrical stimulation, intersegmental traction, and home recommendations.
While it’s true that every patient is different most find decompression therapy incredibly effective. Indeed, it’s true to say that response times can be noticeable in just a few sessions with many finding substantial relief after just one session. The therapy can be adjusted to make sure it is providing the best level of support.
Why Choose Spinal Decompression Therapy Over Surgery?
Spinal decompression surgery may be recommended by a doctor in severe cases. This is usually if spinal stenosis is impacting a patient's ability to walk or if it is causing various issues that impact the quality of life including incontinence. In fact, there are cases that have progressed too far to be a good candidate for chiropractic care or spinal decompression therapy.
However, in most cases, many patients will benefit more from therapy. Since it is not invasive, this is a far less dangerous option. Concern over making the problem worse is a factor with surgery. Similarly, spinal decompression therapy can provide long-lasting results that are similar and may even replicate the impact of a surgical procedure. Remember, even with surgery it is not possible to cure the condition. You can only reduce the symptoms and improve your nervous system function.
Surgery is also particularly dangerous for those in their later years of life. In contrast, spinal decompression therapy is suitable for both young and old individuals. Perhaps the best part for patients is that it does not cause pain, it relieves it. You won’t feel any discomfort during this treatment, and only occasionally do patients report soreness post-treatment.
With surgery, you will often be bedridden for weeks after your treatment is complete. You may even require extensive physical therapy before you can return to your normal routine. With spinal decompression therapy from a professional chiropractor, you can get the treatment and then get back to your daily routine immediately.
You also won’t need any medication which eliminates issues with side effects that can be a problem with pain medication currently recommended by doctors. With spinal decompression therapy, it really can be as simple as one, pain-free, thirty-minute procedure.
Do you think you might be suffering from spinal stenosis? It’s possible that you have already received a diagnosis and are now exploring treatment options. Regardless of your situation, do not suffer in silence. With chiropractic care and decompression therapy, pain and other symptoms can be substantially reduced. You can get relief, but we do need to start with a consultation and figure out the best plan of action for you.
Having spinal stenosis doesn’t mean you are doomed to a life of pain and poor health.
Let CORE Chiropractic help you get back on track with personalized chiropractic care, spinal decompression and a custom treatment plan. Call today for your consultation, or schedule an appointment.