Spinal stenosis is a narrowing of the spinal canal of the spine. Stenosis as a term can also be used to describe narrowing of the smaller holes, on the sides of your spine, where the spinal nerves exit. These holes are called foramina. But the bigger hole/canal is where the spinal cord and nerves descend in your spine. A narrowing of this canal, i.e. stenosis of this canal, can pinch the spinal cord or the nerves. This can cause pain and disability. The narrowing of this canal is caused by degenerative boney changes, ligament enlargement, or slippage of vertebrae, most commonly. If the stenosis pinches your spinal cord, you can have problems with your finger dexterity and walking. If the stenosis pinches your nerves, you can have pain in your buttocks, thighs, and legs.
Can A Chiropractor Help Spinal Stenosis?
Yes, if the stenosis is not too severe. Spinal stenosis is qualified and quantified in several ways. And, further, some degree of spinal stenosis is a normal part of aging, like grey hair and wrinkles. When you read your MRI report it can be very misleading because the radiologist will describe many details that may have no clinical significance. It is his job to describe everything he sees, even if it has no import. It is your clinical doctor’s job to explain the significance of any stenosis you have. Sometimes the extent of stenosis will be measured in millimeters. Other times it will be qualified in subjective terms, like mild, moderate, or severe. Your doctor will see your imaging, correlate it with your clinical picture, and tell you the probability that he can help you. And, many times, you have to try the treatment in order to answer that question.
Types of Spinal Stenosis
We generally classify stenosis according to the region affected, so we diagnose cervical, lumbar, or thoracic stenosis. Each region results in particular signs and symptoms, based upon the part of the spinal cord or nerves affected. Stenosis in the low back is common and, when severe, causes pain, tingling, and numbness down your buttocks and legs. Stenosis in your neck and thoracic area is sometimes painless, and can escape detection for a long time. People may develop a progressively uncoordinated gait/walking pattern, and problems with their finger dexterity, and not know why. And many times doctors will miss this diagnosis until the gait is severely affected. In the neck and thoracic area spinal stenosis can cause pathology of the spinal cord that is irreversible, even after the appropriate surgical treatment, so it is important to diagnose this problem as soon as possible.
Common Symptoms of Spinal Stenosis
If you have spinal stenosis in your neck, you may not have any pain in your neck. In fact, this oftens causes patients to dismiss that idea that they may need surgery to correct the problem. The usual symptoms and signs from cervical stenosis include loss of finger dexterity, uncoordinated gait, i.e. you start to walk with an abnormal spasticity, and urinary incontinence. The latter sign is so common in the older population, that the first two signs are more helpful.
If you have spinal stenosis in your low back, i.e. lumbar stenosis, you will probably have pain in your buttocks, thighs and legs. You will have trouble standing up straight, you can’t bend backwards unless you bend your knees simultaneously, and your ability to walk long distances is limited and progressively painful.
What Are the Causes of Spinal Stenosis?
The usual causes of spinal stenosis are the progressive increase in degenerative changes of your spine. As the spine degenerates, the discs collapse, and bulge, resulting in less space in the canal. The ligaments and bones also enlarge, which also reduces the space for the spinal cord and spinal nerves.
In addition to that, some people are also born with a small spinal canal, so degenerative changes will make their canal symptomatic at a younger age than those who are born with a larger canal.
Can I Go to a Chiropractor if I Have Spinal Stenosis?
Yes, spinal stenosis is not dangerous, unless it is very severe in the neck area. And spinal stenosis does not require surgery until it becomes severe enough to threaten the spinal cord or limit walking too much. So until then, it is fine to seek treatment from a chiropractor. The chiropractor will not change the spinal stenosis, but may be able to give you sufficient relief for many years, before you need surgery. Spinal stenosis is a slowly progressive, degenerative condition so if you live long enough, you may need surgery for it. I treat patients with spinal stenosis all the time and they benefit from treatment. But I do also refer for surgery when it advances to that point.
How Does Chiropractic Care Help With Spinal Stenosis?
When people have pain and disability from spinal stenosis, and the stenosis is only mild to moderate, chiropractic can help, depending upon what kind of treatment is used. I treat spinal stenosis when it is mild or moderate, by using spinal decompression treatment, and it is the most effective non-surgical treatment for that problem. I do not think that conventional chiropractic adjustments will help much for spinal stenosis. The reason that any treatment can help is only if it can provide a little more space for the nerves, and we’re talking about millimeters here. Plus, when a patient has pain you can ascribe some of the pain to the stenosis, but there can be other contributors to their pain, so a trial of treatment is the only way to ascertain how much any treatment will help.
Measurable Benefits of Effective Chiropractic Treatment for Spinal Stenosis
All treatments for spinal stenosis, including chiropractic treatment, should be held to a high standard. So the patient must improve reasonably fast and well, with a reduction of pain and improved abilities in activities of daily living. So the measurable benefits should be a reduction in subjective pain, and an improvement in objective activities. And this should occur reasonably fast with subjective improvements within two weeks, in my estimation.
Why is Chiropractic Care Better than Surgery?
Any good surgeon will tell you that surgery is “a last resort”. That statement is actually a little silly, but it is meant to convey the idea that all reasonable, non-surgical treatments should be tried before contemplating surgery, because surgery has unique and higher risks than most non-surgical treatments. So when chiropractic treatment can help, it is a better alternative than surgery. But I am not shy to refer patients for surgical treatment. In fact, I talk many patients into doing surgery, who may be too afraid of it. Surgery for spinal stenosis can be the best thing in some patients. The treatment objective of any doctor should be to provide the most appropriate treatment. Most of the time that is not surgical, but non-surgical doctors need to know when to make surgical referrals.
Risks and Considerations With Chiropractic Care for Spinal Stenosis
Chiropractic treatment is quite safe for spinal stenosis. The one special consideration is moderate to severe, cervical stenosis. For this condition, chiropractic adjustments, i.e. manipulations, are relatively contraindicated. However, spinal decompression treatment is safe, and may prove sufficiently effective, until the stenosis progresses to the need for surgery. There is also a risk of spinal stenosis causing progressive disease of the spinal cord in the neck, and this must be avoided. When the neck stenosis is milder, it can be observed and monitored until, and if, surgery becomes a necessity.
Best Chiropractor Decatur GA – Backstrong Non Surgical Rehab Clinic
Are you looking for an experienced & professional certified Chiropractor Decatur GA? To help you resolve misalignments and other musculoskeletal issues? You can contact Dr. Craig Castanet D.C anytime.
Backstrong Non Surgical Rehab Clinic.
2771 Lawrenceville Hwy #101, Decatur, GA 30033,
Contact Number: 404-558-4015
Gmail: [email protected]
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Dr. Craig Castanet D.C. is a chiropractor specialist & Founder of Backstrong Non-Surgical Rehab Clinic. Our office is located at 2771 Lawrenceville Hwy #101, Decatur, GA 30033. For the last 35+ years he has participated in the treatment of more than 40,000 patients, in orthopedics, physical medicine, physical therapy, and neurosurgical clinics. If you live in the Decatur, Ga area and have neck or back problems, you owe it to yourself to see us for your problem. If you have any question about chiropractic care & Treatment. You can use our contact page or social media profile anytime & we will communicate with you soon.