Spinal Stenosis is a narrowing of the spinal canal. Caused by the aging process, spinal or disk injury and disease, or the breakdown of cartilage from arthritis, this condition affects many people over the age of 50 but is a very manageable affliction. The spine is made up of vertebrae, which protects the spinal cord. Between the vertebrae are shock-absorbing disks. When these have eroded nerves can get trapped or pinched, which make it extremely painful to move. There are many treatments for spinal stenosis, both medical and natural, to help live with the discomfort it may cause, or even eradicate it altogether.
To help deal with the pain of spinal stenosis, your doctor may prescribe some medication, and which one you take and how often depends on you and your condition. Anti-depressants or opioids are sometimes used to relieve chronic pain. A muscle relaxant can help muscle spasms that occur with this condition. Anti-Seizure drugs are used to help reduce pain caused by nerve damage, and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, or NSAIDs, are used to relieve pain and reduce inflammation. These drugs are quite potent and cannot be bought over the counter at a pharmacy, without a prescription from your doctor.
Surgery for spinal stenosis is often the last resort. Once it is determined that medication as rehabilitation is no longer an option as the condition disables the patient, they may opt to have spinal surgery. Surgery includes a laminectomy, where the back part of the affected vertebrae, the lamina, is removed to relieve the area of pressure and pain and the spine is fused with metal to strengthen it. A laminotomy, where only a portion of the lamina is removed relieving localized pressure, or a laminoplasty, where the vertebrae on the neck are opened, and a metal bridge is inserted to keep the section open. Only 5% of people need surgery, and there are significant risks as with any spinal surgery.
A steroid injection can be used to reduce inflammation and lessen the constriction of the affected nerves of the spinal cord. These corticosteroid injections work to relieve the pressure on the irritated and swollen nerve roots. This form of treatment cannot be overused, as it is known to weaken the surrounding bones and connective tissue. Used as a temporary measure for serious cases, a patient should have no more than 3-4 injections a year to ensure stability in the surrounding area, and you can only gain access to these injections with the recommendation of your doctor or specialist.
Taking a course of physical therapy with a trained therapist is recommended to help with the range of movement and maintaining the flexibility or your spine. It can be difficult at first as those with spinal stenosis often become less active due to the pain but continuing with therapy training can also improve your balance and build up your strength. Throughout a physical therapy course, your body will learn about endurance, and it can also help stabilize the spine, to an extent, relieving some pain and discomfort. Your doctor can prescribe a particular kind of therapy that may be covered by your health insurance, or you can find many courses privately to undertake.
Losing weight is one of the many major factors in relieving any pressure-based conditions in the body. If you are overweight, your skeleton is carrying more weight, which puts the bones and structure under immediate strain. Those with spinal stenosis should work to ‘lighten the load' on their bodies. As it will be hard to do a cardiovascular workout with the pain associated with the condition, the best place to start is with diet and some light exercises. Changing what foods you eat as well as the amount will make changes for the better in your system as well as how many pounds you are carrying. Weight loss is a vital step in relieving pain.
Treatment in the home is not just the use of a proper diet and exercise to lose weight. Exercise is also helping you strengthen your spine. If you cannot go to a physical therapy course, you will be able to do some specific exercises at home to relieve pain. These can be suggested to you by your doctor, therapist or found on the Internet, but please act with care when exercising alone. There are over the counter medication you can buy that may also relieve some of the pain associated with Spinal Stenosis.
Amongst all the movement you are now doing to strengthen your spine and surrounding area, it is important to be aware of your initial injury and the movement that aggravates it. Much like repetitive strain injury (RSI) if you keep on doing the wrong thing to one area, it can wear it down and cause problems. The same goes with your spine. Modify your movement and avoid the actions you know trigger pressure, and work around it safely to gain better movement.
Massages to relieve pain and discomfort of Spinal Stenosis is not for everyone. If you do not enjoy receiving massages, you are likely to be tense, and tension can add to the pain. The whole act of a massage can become painful, which is not its purpose or intention. If you can relax enough, a massage may be beneficial to ease the pain as it is designed to relax the muscles, giving them a break from the strain of the condition. This then leads to ease of movement for a time after the massage and a general feeling of wellbeing. A massage on other parts of your body, not just around the spine, would be beneficial to all Spinal Stenosis sufferers as the whole body can become tense when dealing with such a condition as this.
Acupuncture comes from ancient traditional Chinese medicine and is widely used in western countries today. It is a holistic health technique which works to unblock the body of physical illness. The act of acupuncture is the art of inserting small needles along certain points in the body; this releases energy along the established meridian pathways in the body and promotes healing. It is relatively painless, and the technique can stimulate energy, release endorphins, and realign the body.
Homeopathy is the field of medicine that focuses on natural remedies. These treatments are helpful in reducing pain, both acute and chronic, and it is used by over 200 million people around the world and is widely practiced throughout Europe. Homeopathic medicine is the use of highly diluted substances with a plant or mineral ingredient to treat various conditions. Considered an alternative therapy, it is always a good idea to inform your doctor of what therapies you intend to take along with any other medications and therapy's prescribed.
This site offers information designed for educational purposes only. You should not rely on any information on this site as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, treatment, or as a substitute for, professional counseling care, advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you have any concerns or questions about your health, you should always consult with a physician or other healthcare professional.