When the space in our spine or backbone of the body become narrow and a lot of pressure gets exerted on the spinal cord or the surrounding nerves, the condition is known as Spinal stenosis. More than 80 percent of spinal stenosis occurs in the lumbar spine region which is the lower back portion in our body. If the individual faces this problem, it may also exert pressure and compress his nerve roots and give rise to severe pain in the back portion of his legs.
This disease is common amongst old people as the body’s ligaments become thick and small growths develop on the bones and the spinal canal. People suffering from arthritis may also experience this problem. Heredity factors and tumors in the spine contribute to this problem. If an individual’s spine is unstable and a vertebra slips over another vertebra, this can result in the spinal canal getting narrower in size. Another common cause of this disease is trauma where a person experiences an accident which dislocates his spine and fractures it.
A person who gets spinal stenosis may fall from time to time and often experience a lot of difficulty in walking. He may also feel a certain kind of numbness in his legs and there may be a tingling sensation in this area.
It is very important to treat spinal stenosis as soon as it is diagnosed or it can lead to severe complications in the body and make a person handicapped over due course of time.
Treatments For Spinal Stenosis
Cold and Heat Packs
Apply cold and heat packs alternately on the affected area as this reduces the pain along with the swelling in the nerves. You should apply a cold pack for around 15 minutes after which the heat treatment can be given.
Care should be taken that both the packs do not come in direct contact with the skin. You can place a towel over the area and then place both the packs over it.
It is advisable to change your posture when you are sitting, standing or walking as this helps to treat spinal stenosis to a great extent. Lean forward and flex your spin a little whenever you are walking as this helps to minimize the pain and reduce the numbness. Also sit on a recliner instead of a normal chair as this flexes your back.
When a patient of spinal stenosis lies down on the bed or the floor, he should bring his knees to his chest or till wherever it reaches as this too gives him instant relief. By owning such positions, you increase the nerve space and an individual may be able to walk for a longer distance without feeling any discomfort. A patient is advised not to perform those types of activities which can exert pressure on his spine and increase the pain.
When the cause of the problem is swelling and inflammation in the nerves, it is advisable to take the proper medications to solve the problem. Anti-inflammatory medications which do not have steroids in them prove to be extremely beneficial for some people. Aspirin or ibuprofen is a commonly used medicine which has no side effects and reduces the inflammation quickly.
Rest and Exercise
When diagnosed with spinal stenosis, an individual should take proper rest and maintain good posture during all times of the day. This rest should be accompanied with the individual slowly resuming his normal day-to-day activities. The person should start exercising on a daily basis and take up activities like cycling or regular walking.
You can also consult a physical therapist as he will be able to chalk out a unique exercise regime which will help to reduce the stenosis immensely. Care should be taken that you do not overdo this regime or stay inactive for prolonged periods of time as both these aspects can aggravate the problem. If a person does proper and regular stretching, it too can help in reducing the pain.
Injecting cortisone in the surrounding area of the epidural space reduces the pain immensely and provides a lot of relief to the patient. 3 injections are injected into the patient’s body over a course of 5 to 6 months. Though they do not permanently cure the disease, they are used by many individuals to get short term relief.
In many severe cases, a decompression surgery may be required to treat the patient. This surgery can be done in several ways using different techniques. However certain points must be kept in mind when opting for this surgery. The patient should get a detailed and correct diagnosis done from a reputed center so that the surgeon knows the exact nature of the problem. He may have to correct a nerve which is chocked in two to three different locations on one side or both the sides.
The surgeon should not give way to new problems such an injury in the nerve while performing the surgery as this might have to be corrected later on. The surgeon should also ensure that he does not leave any structures instable during the surgery. A good surgeon takes care not to harm or destruct the surrounding normal structures and tries not to touch them at all.
The surgery is absolutely successful on most patients and the compressions get removed. They may take time to recover fully but once they do, they can continue their normal activities and walk long distances without any discomfort. Being an extremely advanced kind of surgery, it is strongly recommended to take the help of a reputed surgeon who has full knowledge and experience in this field.
Acupuncture is known to work wonders for people suffering from spinal stenosis. If you go for regular acupuncture sessions, it helps to reduce the pain and in some mild cases, solves the problem completely. You can also get massage done by an experienced and professional massage therapist as this reduces the pain and related complications. The masseur should exert the right amount of pressure on your back, taking care not to overdo it.
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