A medical condition in which the spinal canal becomes narrow causing a compression to the spinal cord and nerves is called spinal stenosis. It is most common in men and women aged 50 years and above. However, younger people who are born with a narrowing of the spinal canal or who suffer an injury to the spine can also be detected with this condition. During aging, the spine degenerates. This can also be triggered by osteoporosis, spinal decompression, a herniated disk, a crack or by a tumor. Spinal stenosis can also affect the cervical, lumbar or thoracic spine.
Spinal stenosis is classified as having a genetic origin. This condition may stem from birth, be congenital and develop, or be acquired. Usually, however, stenosis is cause by birth defects. Pressure to the lower portion of the spinal cord or on nerve roots that branch out from said area may result to numbness or pain in the legs. Pressure to the upper part of the spinal cord or to the neck area may cause the same symptoms to the shoulders, including the legs. That is why people are advised not to strain themselves, especially in activities that may cause trauma to the spinal column.
Surgical and non-surgical procedures are done in treating spinal stenosis. There are several surgical procedures which can help to alleviate pressure by correcting the alignment of the spine. This procedure will return the back’s original curvature and posture. The non-surgical options such as exercise, only treats symptoms of stenosis – such as pain – but not the actual causes of the condition. If the spinal stenosis is not serious, non-surgical treatments are used instead of the surgical treatment. But if the patient suffers disorders to the bladder or bowel disorder and a difficulty to move, surgery is advised.
The following steps are carried out in treating spinal stenosis.
- Pain relievers such as aspirins and ibuprofens to are used to relieve minor pain and lessen the enlarged spinal discs. A combination of cold and hot compresses can also be used to relieve pain.
- Massaging the affected area can be done to strengthen the back and abdominals. This is done to help align the spine, and should be performed by a physical therapist.
- Exercise is advised to increase the mobility of the patient and the flexibility of the spine.
- Braces or corsets can be used to help to keep the spine in position. Braces are often used by elderly people.
- Corticosteroid injections in the spinal cord are given when sharp pain is experienced. It is also used if pain is going down the legs, to lessen the pain and swelling. The effects of the injections don’t always last long. But corticosteroid injections can only be used in limited amounts.
- Surgery is done if the condition requires the removal of a part of the spine that is causing pressure. This procedure only relieves some pain, but does not resolve the causes of the disease.
Spinal stenosis causes pain to the affected area and the area around it. Exercises for this condition may provide relief, and the pressure may be alleviated. But, it is important to consult a professional first, before any routine is undertaken.