Spinal stenosis is a term covering a few different types of conditions related to the vertebral column and the nerves related to them. The spine's primary purpose is to protect the spinal cord and provide a stable structure to have spinal nerves branch out of to connect the brain to the body, our most vital organ. As we age, our bodies adapt to various stressors and changes that in turn cause our bodies to change. Our bones will remodel to adapt to the stress placed on our spines from gravity which is called bone spurs. Another common cause of spinal stenosis is intervertebral disc herniation.
Bone spurs are a natural process our bodies take due to aging. Just because we see bone spurs on an x-ray does not mean we necessarily will have pain. It does mean that our bodies are naturally adapting to stress the way they were meant to and is a sign of a long term process occurring. Bone spurs become problematic, however, when they grow into the neural canal where the spinal cord is located thus can put pressure onto the spinal cord. This results in symptoms that can be felt, depending on where the spinal stenosis is occurring, such as dull, achy, or deep pain in the low back, radiating tingling, numbness sensations, or dull or sharp pain down one or both arms or legs. One of the most common symptoms of lumbar spinal stenosis is the inability to walk more than a few minutes or a block without severe, debilitating pain. This happens because the space, where the spinal cord lies, gets smaller or more narrow. Stenosis translates to a narrowing of a passage.
There are multiple types of spinal stenosis and differentiating between them can help identify the correct types of treatments to help relieve symptoms. If the hole that the spinal nerve branches out from narrows, the intervertebral foramen, you may experience pain and radiating symptoms down one arm or leg. that's because the stenosis is affecting a specific nerve as it exits the spine from the side and travels its course to its destination in the body. This is sometimes described as Sciatica or radiculopathy. If the stenosis is occurring centrally in the spine, it can compress the spinal cord. This is a more serious condition as you may experience deep pain in the back with radiating symptoms going down both arms or legs. This is a sign of spinal cord compression and needs immediate care as it can have permanent effects if not treated properly. A chiropractor is trained to properly assess and diagnose spinal stenosis through a comprehensive examination and through the use of X-rays which we have in our office. We can treat spinal stenosis by applying gentle and focused Chiropractic care to the specific joint that the stenosis is occurring at to help improve the function and mobility of that joint and relieve pressure on the nervous system. We couple this treatment with spinal decompression where a table will gently apply traction on your spine effectively removing pressure on the spine and increasing the space in which those nerves lie relieving pressure on them. We will also educate you on proper exercises and stretches you can do to help manage your condition on your own effectively empowering you to take control of your health and improve your quality of life! Spinal stenosis is a chronic, painful condition that can affect your daily life and ability to do the things you love. You do not have to remain in pain however, we can help! Dr. Brunner will walk you through treatment and explain at each step what will happen so you feel informed and empowered after each visit to rise to higher health!