Your spine is constructed of a series of small bones, collectively known as vertebrae. Your vertebrae are strong and flexible but sometimes prone to damage. These bones surround and protect your spinal cord, which acts as the information highway of your nervous system. The spinal cord passes through each bone, through an opening known as the foramina. Spinal stenosis begins when the foramina narrow or close. This, of course, leaves less room for the nerves that pass through the opening. As the opening narrows, the nerves are compressed, which leads to many uncomfortable symptoms.
There are a number of factors that may cause the foramina to shrink. Many stem from some form of inflammation or other abnormality. For example, as we grow older and our vertebral cartilage begins to wear out, the bones are left unprotected and will start to rub together. The resulting inflammation, along with any other abnormal formations, can easily block or reshape the foramina. This is one of the reasons spinal stenosis is most common in adults over 50 years old, unless you have a history of injury or birth defects.
But what are the symptoms of spinal stenosis? If you have pain concentrated in your neck or lower back, this may be reason for concern. These are the most common areas affected by the onset of spinal stenosis. Be on the lookout for signs of numbness or weakness. Because spinal stenosis puts a significant amount of pressure on your spinal cord, your nervous system will likely be affected, and you may notice a sudden decrease in your motor skills.
So, what are your treatment options? There are painkillers and anti-inflammatory medication that will help alleviate some of the pressure on your spinal cord. You could also simply avoid strenuous or otherwise physically taxing activities that cause flair-ups. However, these are only short-term solutions to the problem. Physical therapy and chiropractic care may help slow or stop the foramina from narrowing any further. A combination of the two could potentially even reverse the process and correct your spinal health.
If you’re worried you might have spinal stenosis, make an appointment with a chiropractor. Not only is chiropractic care preventative of future injury and spinal abnormality, but it can be used as a treatment for your current health issues. Wirth Chiropractic would be thrilled to meet with you and get you started on the path to recovery. Call and make an appointment with us today!