Spinal stenosis is a narrowing of spaces in the spine (backbone) that results in pressure on the spinal cord and/or nerve roots.This disorder usually involves the narrowing of one or more of three areas of the spine: (1) the canal in the center of the column of bones (vertebral or spinal column) through which the spinal cord and nerve roots run, (2) the canals at the base or roots of nerves branching out from the spinal cord, or (3) the openings between vertebrae (bones of the spine) through which nerves leave the spine and go to other parts of the body. The narrowing may involve a small or large area of the spine. If there is a disc herniation this can be coupled with degenerative stenosis makes the canal smaller. Pressure on the lower part of the spinal cord or on nerve roots branching out from that area may give rise to pain or numbness in the legs. Pressure on the upper part of the spinal cord (that is, the neck area) may produce similar symptoms in the shoulders, or even the legs. All the nerves that supply the lower part of the body must pass through the neck are first, so it is important to consider this area in instances of leg pain from stenosis.
Spianl Stenosis is more common in men and women over 50. Over 75% of spinal stenosis involves the lumbar spine although it can occur in the cervical spine. Symptoms of stenosis are leg pain that increases when walking, this is called claudication, which has symptoms of cramping not usually seen in sciatica.. This can also occur with arterial circulatory insufficiency, however leg pain from stenosis takes time to stop when you stop walking whereas arterial leg pain stops immediately when sitting. Usually this leg pain develops over several years. Leaning forward decreases pain because this position takes pressure off the spinal cord. The pain of stenosis is not constant and usually relieved by rest.
Diagnosis of spinal stenosis is usually made by MRI or CT scan. Because the symptoms of stenosis tend to come and go, sometimes physical examination will not reveal neurological or muscular deficits.
Treatment: The first step in treatment is pain relief usually using heat ,ice,TNS, or ultrasound. Cox Flexion Distraction technique is very successful in treating this disorder.. The Drs. at Merrick Chiropractic will also work on activity modification and exercises to allow the patient to perform as much physical activity as possible without pain. Exercise is an important component for successful treatment of stenosis.