Spinal Stenosis Treatment Options at Eastside Medical Group
Spinal stenosis is a condition in which the open canal of your spine narrows and closes down.
This narrowing can put pressure on the spinal nerves resulting in significant pain. The narrowing can also create compression on the spinal cord, causing weakness in the arms and legs.
The most common causes of spinal stenosis are disc herniations, bone spurs, and overgrowth of the facet joints, which narrow the space available for your nerves.
Stenosis of the spine is more common in the neck (the cervical region) or the low back (the lumbar region). As a result, symptoms are often found in these two areas, and can include any of the following tingling, weakness, or numbness in the extremities; leg cramps; pain in the neck, back or legs.
Severe cases, when the narrowing causes nerve damage, can also include loss of movement and loss of bladder control.
How is stenosis treated?
There are three basic treatment approaches to spinal stenosis:
- The conservative medical approach, which frequently involves bed rest, analgesics, local heat, and muscle relaxants
- The conservative chiropractic approach, which includes manipulation, exercise, and self-care techniques
The source of the stenosis often dictates the treatment. Although medications can provide pain relief, those powerful enough to deaden the pain can also exacerbate patients’ already compromised sense of balance.
In many mild and moderate cases of stenosis, however, non-invasive conservative care, such as chiropractic, can help lessen pain and discomfort, maintain joint mobility, and allow the patient to keep a reasonable lifestyle, at least for some time.
A technique called distraction manipulation may be helpful in reducing leg discomfort. Home exercises are a major part of the conservative treatment program.
It is recommended to exercise four or five times a week with physical activities such as riding the bicycle or lying on the side and grasping the knees with the arms, focus on flexing the spine in a forward position—stretching and strengthening the lower back and stomach muscles and improving muscle strength. Exercises designed to mobilize the involved nerves have been found to be particularly helpful.
Ultimately, stenosis is a chronic condition that cannot be “cured,” but it often can be improved, and improvement can be maintained over the long term.
Patients can work with a health care provider, such as an integrated medical facility like Eastside Medical Group, to reduce symptoms and improve their quality of life.