Spinal stenosis is a condition that results when spaces in the spinal column become narrowed or constricted, and pressure is placed on the spinal cord and associated nerves. It generally involves one or more of the following areas:
- Spinal canal in the center of the vertebral column
- Canals located at the roots of spinal cord nerves
- Spaces between the vertebrae
When this narrowing occurs, pressure is placed on the spinal cord or spinal nerve roots, resulting in difficulty transmitting and receiving nerve impulses that control sensation and motor control. This pressure often results in inflammation, pain, weakness and/or numbness is various parts of the spine, making it difficult to participate in daily activities, necessitating spinal stenosis treatment.
Stenosis occurs most often (75%) in the lower back (lumbar spine). However, it may also occur in the neck (cervical spine) – which is less common, but more dangerous.
Symptoms of spinal stenosis often come on slowly and may take years to reach full severity. These include:
- Pain increases after walking a short distance and improves after resting.
- Localized pain – ranging from a dull to stabbing pain.
- Pain that radiates to the arms, buttocks or legs.
- Pain in the back, buttocks, thighs or calves; or pain in the neck, shoulders or arms.
- Muscular weakness in the arms or legs.
- Difficulty moving one or both legs.
- Odd sensations – pins and needles, muscle spasms, cramping or weakness in the legs and feet.
- When walking, limping may occur. This may escalate when walking up a hill or climbing stairs.
- Numbness or tingling in the arms and/or hands.
- Balance issues and increased falls.
- Abnormal bowel or bladder function.
Poor Posture may be a factor!
There are many factors or causes, in addition to poor posture that contribute to developing spinal stenosis:
- Spinal misalignment
- Herniated or slipped discs
- Bone spurs
- Thickened ligaments
- Spinal trauma
- Degenerating bone or cartilage
- Arthritis, RA, Osteoarthritis
- Spinal tumors
- Aging (over age 50)
- Sedentary lifestyle
- Physically demanding jobs
- Congenital factors
- Previous spinal surgery
Spinal Stenosis Treatment
When seeking spinal stenosis treatment, the first step is the diagnosis. Symptoms can vary greatly and may appear to be similar to other spinal conditions. Therefore, it is vital to work with a Team of Experts who can accurately detect the source of symptoms.
At The AIMS Clinic, a consultation with our Clinic Director begins the process. Dr. Reisert and Dr. Picone pride themselves on understanding each patient’s journey. A health history is reviewed and lifestyle choices are discussed, along with any spinal stenosis treatment already attempted, but failed. Once the consultation is completed, testing and evaluations are conducted by our Team, which includes a structural chiropractic examination and in-office imaging tests. During the exam, you will be asked to sit, stand and walk, bend in various ways, and lift your legs while lying down. Nerve function and neurological testing will be conducted. If necessitated, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) may be recommended to create better images of soft tissues (muscles, spinal discs, nerves, spinal cord).
In some cases, surgical intervention may be the treatment of choice. However, many people are seeking alternative methods. These include:
- Chiropractic: This natural, non-invasive treatment is usually done without disrupting a patient’s daily routine. No recovery time, no addictive pain medication, no time away from work or resting in bed to recover from a surgical procedure. Some treatment options include:
- Spinal Decompression: Flexion-Distraction Techniques
- Spinal Manipulation: Gentle hand movements take pressure off the spine to relieve pain and pressure, and restore proper joint function. This technique helps correct the actual problem at the source, rather than masking the pain with medication.
- Lumbar Traction
- Massage Therapy: Improves blood flow and helps to speed healing.
- Home Exercises and Stretches: To help reinforce the effect of chiropractic treatments received.
- Lifestyle Recommendations: Ergonomic recommendations for work and at home, and maintaining proper posture… all the time. It is also important to maintain a healthy weight and have regular exercise.
Those seeking chiropractic care for spinal stenosis often avoid surgery and medication. If spinal movement is restricted, then pain and dysfunction may result. A structural cause necessitates structural correction… not a chemical solution of pain medication. If abnormal wear and tear is the result of a spinal misalignment, then by correcting this misalignment – further stenosis may be prevented.
- Physical Therapy: According to a 2015 study in Ann. Intern. Med. (Delitto A, Piva SR, Moore CG, Fritz JM, Wisniewski SR, Josbeno DA, Fye M, Welch WC.), Physical Therapy for spinal stenosis is as effective as surgery and considered as a first-choice treatment option.
The goal of our Physical Therapy Team is to decrease pain in muscles, ligaments and tendons; improve function and increase muscle strength – along with providing education and support. Therapies and techniques include:
- Stretching: Helps reduce stress placed on joints.
- Lumbar and Abdominal Strengthening Exercises: Strengthens muscles.
- Manual Therapy: Improves range-of-motion.
- Ice Therapy: Reduces pain.
- Heat Therapy: Promotes blood circulation.
- Instruction for proper lifting, pushing and pulling.
The AIMS Clinic is a non-surgical pain-relief Center, specializing in pain conditions that range from neck, back and shoulder pain to hip, knee and foot pain. Centrally located in East Brunswick, patients travel from various counties to receive our innovative treatments and compassionate care. Combining chiropractic care – spinal decompression and/or spinal manipulation and physical therapy has helped thousands of patients reclaim their health and return to an active lifestyle. From the first day you walk into our patient-based Center to the last day of your customized spinal stenosis treatment program, you realize that you received the best care. Our Team is always available to ensure you maintain your goals.
Call us today to schedule an appointment at (732) 254-5553.