Stenosis is another word for “narrowing,” so if your chiropractor diagnoses you with spinal stenosis, it means the passage through which your spinal cord or nerves run is partially obstructed. As experts in musculoskeletal conditions, chiropractors treat stenosis using a variety of techniques.
Although spinal stenosis does not always result in symptoms, it can cause discomfort ranging from mild to debilitating. In severe cases, it can be difficult to walk even a moderate distance without pain. Stenosis can occur in two separate areas of the spine:
Stenosis is common among adults over 50, affecting both women and men. Less commonly, people develop it when they are younger, typically due to an underlying condition such as a spinal injury.
The obstructions may or may not press on the sensitive nerves that fan out from the spinal cord. When nerves are irritated by pressure within the narrowing holes of the spine, it can cause a variety of symptoms that generally develop slowly. If left untreated, depending on its extent and severity, spinal stenosis can affect your daily routine. The most common places for spinal stenosis to occur are in your neck and lower back. Not everyone will have symptoms, but here’s what people with stenosis may experience:
Neck (cervical) stenosis
Lower back (lumbar) stenosis
The most common cause of spinal stenosis is arthritis—wear and tear on the joints and discs of your spinal column. As you age, the cartilage that covers these joints is worn away in the same way that arthritis affects your knees or fingers. As the cartilage deteriorates, your body may grow new bony material to try to support the joints, known as bone spurs. The spurs don’t always cause problems, but when they grow in such a way that they compress a nerve, it can be very painful and may require surgical intervention.
Your body may also try to compensate for the loss of cartilage by increasing the size of the ligaments that connect your joints in your lower back. As they take up more space, they reduce the diameter of the spinal canal.
Bulging or slipped (herniated) discs or an abnormal curvature of the spine (scoliosis) can also cause spinal stenosis.
Chiropractors treat spinal stenosis without drugs or surgery, often using a combination of therapies to relieve pain and restore function and mobility. Treatment will depend on your particular diagnosis and situation, but typical chiropractic techniques for spinal stenosis include the following:
Spinal stenosis is a common condition that can interfere with your life—a little or a lot. With the conservative treatment we offer, chiropractic care can help you feel better, stand straighter and keep you going in a healthier direction.