The Stanly News and Press (Albemarle, NC)

July 25, 2012

Understanding low back spinal stenosis

By Dr. Larry Bridge for the SNAP

Wednesday, July 25, 2012 — Spinal stenosis is a constriction or narrowing of the spinal canal (located in the center of the vertebral column) which results in pressure on the spinal cord and surrounding nerves. This condition is most commonly found in women and men over 50 years of age.

Spinal stenosis can be genetic or inherited, which means you were born with a small spinal canal, but the most common cause of spinal stenosis is degenerative joint disease (osteoarthritis) and develops slowly over many years.

Other causation factors for spinal stenosis include disc herniations or bulges pushing into the spinal canal, thickening (atrophy) of a ligament (ligaments hold bone to bone) located in the spinal canal, vertebral fractures due to injury or trauma, or one vertebrae slipping forward on another.

Some of the symptoms of lumbar spinal stenosis can include: low back pain, pain or numbness in one or both buttocks and radiating pain or numbness into one or both legs. More serious symptoms can include bowel, bladder or sexual dysfunction and require immediate medical attention. One sign of spinal stenosis is pain that increases with walking, standing or increased activity and that is relieved by sitting or bending forward. Spinal stenosis is most easily diagnosed by MRI or CT scan usually after a thorough history and exam have been performed.

Chiropractic treatment for spinal stenosis avoids surgery and medications and is based on the premise that restriction of spinal movement can cause pain and dysfunction. While there is no cure for spinal stenosis chiropractic manipulative therapy (adjustments) can restore movement and function, reduce restrictions and adhesions in soft tissue and increase mobility.

Spinal decompression therapy, a treatment in which the bones of the spine are gently pulled apart using traction, can sometimes help relieve the pain associated with spinal stenosis by increasing the space between the vertebrae and relieving nerve pressure.  

Other medical treatments include medication, rest, a back brace and epidural steroid injections. In some cases surgical intervention is the only option. See a chiropractor today and get back on the road to wellness.