Spinal stenosis is the narrowing of the spaces within the spine, which results in pressure on the spinal cord and the nerves that are a part of it. Since the most stress on the spine is on the lower part of the back (lumbar), spinal stenosis is more likely to occur there. This condition can cause a significant amount of pain in patients' backs and even their legs. If you suspect you might be suffering from spinal stenosis, talk to your doctor as soon as possible.
The most common cause of spinal stenosis is age. Over time, the tissue between the vertebrae becomes thicker. This plus the decreasing of the disks cause less space between each bone. The bones then break down and the space narrows, which crushes the nerves and causes pain.
Other causes include arthritis and heredity. Some people are born with small spinal canals. When they get older they could develop spinal stenosis quicker than others and without warning. Trauma can also cause stenosis if the bone is fractured or dislocated.
The common symptoms of this disorder include leg pain and lower back pain. Since the nerves are pinched, the information they are trying to relay becomes pinched as well, which causes muscle power to decrease in the legs. A few warning signs of stenosis include clumsiness and pain when walking, or experiencing a tingling feeling.
Most of the symptoms are concentrated in the lower body. It is important to consult a neurosurgeon if there are any problems with the legs in terms of responsiveness and hot/cold feelings.
Spinal stenosis typically occurs later in a person's life unless it is hereditary or caused by some kind of trauma. This means that one's posture can cause them to be more susceptible to the symptoms. A good posture exercise to do is to bring the knees up to the chest while lying down. This will cause the back of the spine to expand a little and decrease the stress that's placed on it. Your neurosurgeon can recommend other exercises based on your capabilities.
There are also a few medications that can help the pain, such as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications (NSAIDS) like ibuprofen. Rest is also a key factor in decreasing the amount of pain and progression of stenosis.
Spinal surgery or neurosurgery might be needed for those whose nerves have been completely pinched. This is reserved when other treatments do not decrease the pain. If a normal life can't be lived after trying other forms of treatment, neurosurgery becomes the only option.
Overall, spinal stenosis is something to be taken seriously in the later stages of life. The spine is a delicate structure that takes a beating over a person's lifetime. Proper care and rest are the top treatments along with pain killers and those who suspect that they might have stenosis should consult their doctor immediately.