Tuesday, May 31, 2011

What is Spinal Stenosis?

There are a world of conditions that can be the cause of back or neck pain. You hear a lot about pinched nerves, slipped discs, disc bulges, herniated discs, but there are a number of other serious conditions that can be the cause of back and neck pain. The main thing they all have in common is nerve compression and major pain. Today I’m going to go over a condition that is perhaps less well known than the others: spinal stenosis.

The word stenosis comes from the Greek for “narrowing.” As such, spinal stenosis is related to the narrowing of the spinal canal, the space in the center of vertebrae through which the dense bundle of nerves in the spinal cord travel as it provides information, sensation and motion to all parts of the body. As the space in the canal is decreases due to this narrowing, compression of the spinal nerves can lead to symptoms that are often very similar to that of a herniated disc like pain, numbness, muscular atrophy, paresthesia (pins & needles) and tingling.

Spinal stenosis can be caused by several factors, some of them genetic and some of them happening over time. In many cases, stenosis is related to aging and degeneration of the intervertebral discs which lose their capacity to retain fluid over time. This is completely normal but can contribute to the pain of spinal stenosis. In cases where disc problems are in any way responsible for stenosis, we generally recommend a multidisciplinary program that may include physical therapy, spinal decompression therapy (specifically aimed at restoring disc health), chiropractic and other non-surgical techniques like massage, acupuncture and manual therapies.

Other contributing factors that can cause spinal stenosis are displacement of a vertebra in relation to its neighboring vertebra. This in effect narrows the spinal canal at the “pinch point.” This is known as spondylolisthesis. Therapeutic exercises and manual therapies are often an effective treatment for this type of stenosis, but of course, each case is different and requires an individualized analysis.

If you are experiencing back or neck pain, come in to Living Well Medical in NYC today. Our experts are here to help eliminate pain like that of spinal stenosis. Call today - 212-645-8151.

- Dr. Shoshany, NYC Chiropractor

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