The spine is made up of 33 bones. These bones and the
spinal discs between them provide a passage for the spinal
cord and nerves. The spinal cord itself connects the
nerves of the body to the brain.
The spinal cord is a long tube-like structure that
conducts sensory and motor nerve impulses to and from
Spinal stenosis is a narrowing of areas in the back
or the neck which causes pressure on the spinal cord
or one or more of the spinal nerves.
Stenosis can affect any part of the spine, although
it rarely affects the upper back. When the narrowed
area is in the bones of the neck, it is called
When the narrowed area is in the
bones of the lower back, it is called lumbar stenosis.
In people with spinal stenosis, the spine is
narrowed in one or more of three parts:
The space at the center of the spine
The canals where nerves branch out from the
The space between vertebrae (the bones of the
Numbness, cramping, or pain in the back,
buttocks, thighs, or calves, or in the neck,
shoulders, or arms
Weakness of a portion of a leg or arm
Symptoms will gradually
worsen over time. Most often, symptoms will be on one
side of the body or the other.
Symptoms are more likely to be present or get worse
when a person stands or walks. The symptoms will often lessen
or disappear when a person sits down or leans forward. Most
people with spinal stenosis cannot walk for a long
period of time.
More serious symptoms include:
Difficulty or imbalance when walking
Problems controlling urine or bowel movements
Problems urinating or having a bowel movement
Spinal stenosis may be caused by:
Arthritis involving the spine, usually in
middle-aged or elderly people. Two
forms of arthritis may affect the spine:
osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.
Herniated or slipped disk
Injury that causes pressure on the nerve roots
or the spinal cord itself
Defect in the spine that was present from birth
Paget's disease of bone - Paget's disease of
bone, the rate at which old bone is broken down
and new bone is formed becomes distorted. Over
time, the affected bones may become fragile and
Other causes of spinal stenosis are:
Tumors of the spine
Too much fluoride in the body
Calcium deposits on the ligaments that run
along the spine
Achondroplasia - a disorder of bone growth that
causes the most common type of dwarfism.
Generally, conservative medical management
involving the use of medications, physical
therapy, and lifestyle changes are prescribed. Steroid injections may
relieve pain for a period of time.
Various other medications are used for chronic
pain, including anticonvulsants phenytoin & carbamazepine, or tricyclic
If the pain is persistent and does not respond to
these measures, medical doctors will consider surgery to relieve the
pressure on the nerves or spinal cord. Surgery is
performed on the neck or lower back, depending on the
site of the nerve compression.
most common surgical procedure for spinal stenosis is
a laminectomy. The term is derived from two words:
lamina (part of the spinal canal's bony roof) and -ectomy
The object of a laminectomy
is to remove the pressure on the nerve root. The
pressure is the cause of the pain and other
debilitating effects of stenosis. The surgery can be
performed using traditional or microsurgical
techniques. The surgeon removes bone and debris
from the opening through the bone to reduce pressure
on the nerve root.
Recovery is the
process that requires a gradual but persistent effort
to increase physical strengths and minimize weaknesses
Problems with Surgery:
prevalent problem with spinal surgery is nerve
damage. Most often the surgeon feels
this will go away in time, but it may not and can be
painful for the patient. Medical doctors
will prescribe anti-convulsants and anti-depressants.
– Using Chinese medicine theory, acupuncture and
acupressure have been shown to be successful in the
reduction of pain
Chiropractic – Chiropractic
manipulation will help to realign the spine and reduce
the stress on the spinal column and nerves.
Chiropractors may also use ultrasound stimulation,
nutrition and exercise in their treatment regimen.
Cranial-Sacral Therapy – can
be very effective in easing the pressure and pain on
the cervical spine. It involves light touching that
helps to balance the cranial-sacral system and is
often used in alleviating back pain.
Swedish Massage – Traditional
Swedish massage can be very effective in the reduction
of pain caused by spinal stenosis
Physical therapy and/or prescribed
exercises to maintain motion of the spine and
build endurance which helps stabilize the spine.
the body is building up calcium deposits which are
causing the bone to become thicker in the center of
the spine or space between the vertebrae, moving the
calcium may help.
In order for calcium to
be used by the body, it needs vitamin D to absorb it and
Vitamin F to move it around. If Vitamin F is not
present, the calcium remains in the joints, blood vessels, etc. It can also thicken bone in all the
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