Spinal stenosis is a relatively common condition, especially in people over the age of 50. Because it causes pain and interferes with your ability to walk normally, finding a treatment that can help to alleviate the symptoms is important. A chiropractor can work with you to identify where the stenosis is and come up with a treatment plan to reduce its effects.
What is spinal stenosis?
Spinal stenosis is a narrowing of the spinal canal. It doesn't always cause symptoms and many people can go years living with spinal stenosis without even realizing it. In some cases, however, the narrowing compresses the spinal nerves and in these cases, you will experience symptoms.
Spinal stenosis is most common in the lumbar spine (lower back) but can also be seen in the cervical spine (neck). It is very rare for it to affect the thoracic spine (chest).
Symptoms of spinal stenosis:
• pain in the lower back or neck and the legs
• leg pain occurs when walking and stops when resting but the back/neck pain is constant
• weakness in the legs and/or the arms
• loss of balance
Spinal stenosis is most common in older people although it can occur in younger people. It can be caused by an overgrowth of bone, a herniated disc, a thickening of the ligaments, a tumor, or a spinal injury.
Can chiropractic care help with stenosis?
Spinal stenosis is notoriously difficult to treat and, in most cases, will never go away entirely. In severe cases where there is potential for nerve damage, decompression surgery may be used but the results are often disappointing and the symptoms come back.
Chiropractors are experts in the spine and how it affects the nervous system and the rest of the body, so they are well-paced to help treat spinal stenosis. After a diagnostic procedure to determine that it is stenosis, where the stenosis is, and an assessment of the rest of your medical needs, your chiropractor will develop a treatment plan.
Common chiropractic treatments for spinal stenosis include:
• spinal manipulations/adjustments
• flexion-distraction technique
• physical therapy, including stretches and exercises and advice on how to complete these at home
• chiropractic massage
• ultrasound therapy
A chiropractor can help to correct subluxations of the spine, reduce inflammation and muscle tension, and help to increase the amount of space available for the nerves. While there haven't been enough clinical studies to determine its absolute effectiveness, all of the studies that have been done so far show that chiropractic care can relieve the symptoms of spinal stenosis, including a reduction in both pain and disability. In some people, it completely removed their pain and reduced their disability by 80%.
Spinal stenosis can cause long-term pain and disability and is difficult to treat. Surgery is often ineffective, especially in the long term, and carries with it risks. In contrast, the treatment offered by a chiropractor is non-invasive and has been shown to reduce the symptoms of spinal stenosis, leaving you in less pain (or even no pain) and better able to move around as you want to.