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SPINAL STENOSIS

What it is ?

Spinal stenosis is a narrowing of spaces in the spine (backbone) that results in pressure on the spinal cord and/or nerve roots. This disorder usually involves the narrowing of one or more of three areas of the spine:

(1) the canal in the center of the column of bones (vertebral or spinal column) through which the spinal cord and nerve roots run,

(2) the canals at the base or roots of nerves branching out from the spinal cord, or

(3) the openings between vertebrae (bones of the spine) through which nerves leave the spine and go to other parts of the body. The narrowing may involve a small or large area of the spine. Pressure on the lower part of the spinal cord or on nerve roots branching out from that area may give rise to pain or numbness in the legs. Pressure on the upper part of the spinal cord (that is, the neck area) may produce similar symptoms in the shoulders, or even the legs

What Causes it?

Aging: All the factors below may cause the spaces in the spine to narrow,

1. Body’s ligaments can thicken (ligamentum flavum)

2. Bone spurs develop on the bone and into the spinal canal

3. Intervertebral discs may bulge or herniate into the canal

4. Facet joints break down

5. Compression fractures of the spine, which are common in osteoporosis

6. Cysts form on the facet joints causing compression of the spinal sac of nerves (thecal sac)

Arthritis: Two types,

1. Osteoarthritis

2. Rheumatoid arthritis—much less common cause of spinal problems

Heredity:

1. Spinal canal is too small at birth

2. Structural deformities of the vertebrae may cause narrowing of the spinal canal

Instability of the spine, or spondylolisthesis:

1. A vertebra slips forward on another.

Trauma:

1. Accidents and injuries may dislocate the spine and the spinal canal or cause burst fractures that yield fragments of bone that go through the canal.

Tumors of the spine:

1. Irregular growths of soft tissue will cause inflammation

2. Growth of tissue into the canal pressing on nerves, the sac of nerves, or the spinal cord.

Symptoms:

This disorder is most common in men and women over 50 years of age. However, it may occur in younger people who are born with a narrowing of the spinal canal or who suffer an injury to the spine. Some of the symptoms are as follows.

1. Pain localized over spine,

2. aggravates by coughing, sneezing, numbness or cold sensation in lower limbs.

3. Weakness or stiffness of limbs, Urgency or hesitancy in Micturition.

4. Frequent falling, clumsiness

5. Pain and difficulty when walking

6. Numbness, tingling, hot or cold feelings in the legs

The three most common non-surgical spinal stenosis treatments include:

1. Exercise

2. Activity modification

3. Epidural injections

Lifestyle

Some spinal conditions can be improved through lifestyle changes such as proper nutrition and increased exercise. Conditions of the spine such as disk degeneration and spinal stenosis cause pain, reduce mobility and decrease your quality of life. Talk to your doctor about changes in your diet or types of exercises to help relieve symptoms and slow the progression of spinal conditions.

1. Some people find bicycle riding an enjoyable and rewarding activity. Stationary biking may be preferable.

2. Others find swimming to be a positive activity, or water therapy (which is exercise in a pool).

3. Joining a gym and working with a therapist or trainer is often an effective way to learn some good stretching and core strengthening exercises.

4. Taking a Tai Chi class that involves slow, deliberate and flowing movements of the body is another way to exercise and treat spinal stenosis.

The above activities are on the smooth and repetitive end of the exercise spectrum. Patients may have less pain by avoiding the higher impact exercise such as jogging, avoiding contact sports, and avoiding long periods of standing or walking.

Precautions:

Cold articles, Spicy food, Root vegetables, avoid A/C.