According to the American Physical Therapy Association, an estimated 80 percent of people will experience some type of back and neck pain in their lifetime. As the body grows older, the likelihood that the culprit behind that pain is spinal stenosis increases. The regular wear and tear of aging can wreak havoc on our spine and impact our whole body. One condition that can result from degenerative changes in the spine is spinal stenosis. This condition occurs when the space around the spinal cord narrows. This narrowing can create pressure on the spinal cord and surrounding nerves, which can result in pain, numbness or weakness in the body. Spinal stenosis occurs mostly in people over the age of 50. However, younger people who were born with a narrow spinal canal or who hurt their spines may also get spinal stenosis.
There are two main types of spinal stenosis that are classified according to the location of the narrowing on the spine. Cervical stenosis is the condition where the narrowing occurs on the neck part of the spine. Lumbar stenosis is when the narrowing occurs on the lower back part of the spine. There may be no symptoms of spinal stenosis, or symptoms may appear slowly and get worse over time.
Spinal stenosis symptoms
- Pain in the neck or back
- Numbness, weakness, cramping, or pain in the arms or legs
- Pain going down the leg
- Foot problems
A serious type of spinal stenosis occurs when there is pressure on the nerves in the lower back. It can cause loss of bladder or bowel control, problems having sex, and pain, weakness, or loss of feeling in one or both legs.
Causes of spinal stenosis
Although, the most common cause of spinal stenosis is the wear and tear of getting older, it can be caused by number of conditions, including:
- Arthritis that affects the spine
- Inherited conditions, such as a narrow spine
- Tumors of the spine
- Spinal injuries
- Paget’s disease
- Too much fluoride in the body
- Calcium deposits on ligaments that run along the spine
Rehab can help
After being tested for and diagnosed with spinal stenosis, there are several courses of treatment that a doctor may recommend, such as medications, back braces, physical therapy and surgery. Physical therapy can help improve function and ease of movement for people with spinal stenosis. A therapist will do an evaluation and design a special treatment plan aimed at helping a person with spinal stenosis continue to be active and achieve their personalized goals. The treatment could include exercises, stretching, massage therapy, and lifestyle changes.
If you have been diagnosed with spinal stenosis or other back problems, Rehab First may be able to help you get back to living. Go to www.rehab-first.com or call 877-707-2280 to find out more.