Spinal stenosis generally appears in two forms cervical spinal stenosis, which occurs near the neck, and lumbar spinal stenosis, at the lower back, and is a condition that is caused by the narrowing of the space that surrounds the spinal cord or nerves. Thoracic spinal stenosis is located mid-back but is a far less common condition. Nearly 75% of spinal stenosis cases occur in the lumbar spine as the spine narrowing compresses the nerve root potentially causing pain along the leg.
There are several causes for spinal stenosis.
Arthritis: Arthritis is a one of the main causes. The two forms that generally affect the spine are rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis.
Birth: There are those patients that are born with a narrow space surrounding the spinal nerves.
Aging: It appears that as we age we tend to discover more pain in the back area. The ligaments in the body thicken and bone spurs may develop and bulge into the spinal cord. There may also be a breaking down of facet joints during the aging process and the cushioning discs that are found between the vertebras may begin to breakdown and deteriorate.
Genes: Back issues, namely spinal stenosis, can often be hereditary and can be associated with uncontrollable structural deformities.
Trauma: Many accidents and injuries have been known to cause spinal stenosis. These injuries can cause fractures, producing fragments of bone that can penetrate the canal. Injuries have also been known to dislocate the spine cord or spine. Many athletes and victims of car accidents have experienced levels of impact that have added to the condition.
Tumors: Tumors can cause inflammation that directly affects the spinal canal. There can be abnormal soft tissue growth that can potentially lead to bone loss due to over-activity of particular bone cells. Bone loss or displacement can eventually deteriorate the support of the spinal column.
There are a few symptoms that may be specific to those that are suffering from spinal stenosis. Aside from the obvious back and occasional leg pain, symptoms also include pain and difficulty when walking, a noticeable clumsiness, and numbness or tingling in the legs. If lose of bladder or bowel control occurs medical attention should be sought immediately. This can be a symptom of cauda equina syndrome which is caused by compression of spinal nerves.
There are several treatment options for spinal stenosis:
If you are noticing continued back pain, try resting. Give yourself a reason to take a load off. Try light exercises in between resting if it is bearable for you.
Try different position. Consider lying on your back and drawing your legs to your chest, almost simulating a ball. This will help stretch the back while offering some relief. You may even want to try leaning forward while walking as an attempt to elongate the spine.
Pain relievers may help. An anti-inflammatory such as ibuprofen’s Motrin and Advil can reduce swelling in the affected area thus alleviating pain.
In extreme cases surgery may be the final option.
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