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This week we’re going to be going into detail about spinal stenosis, including what is important to learn when you receive a diagnosis of spinal stenosis and how you can treat it without surgery. There are many different causes of spinal stenosis, as it’s a condition that can occur as a result of something pre-existing in your spine. The conditions can range anywhere from some serious diseases, all the way to fractures, breaks in the bone, or simple disc injuries and excess inflammation occupying the space and leading to a stenosis developing.

So firstly, what exactly is a stenosis and what does it mean? Spinal stenosis can occur anywhere along the spine, but it is most common in the neck and the lower back as that’s where the most common injuries occur in the spine. At the side of the vertebrae in the spine, there are small holes called bony canals where nerves travel through. If those bony canals become smaller for whatever reason, a stenosis is present. As the holes have gotten smaller, this could put pressure on the nerves and lead to a multitude of other problems: pain, sciatica those sorts of issues. There is also a central canal, where the spinal cord travels through – this runs through along the back of the length of the spine. Any degenerative changes or disc bulges are present in the spine, it can narrow the canal and cause stenosis.

What Causes Spinal Stenosis?

So as you can probably tell by now, given the complexity of what can actually cause a spinal stenosis. Having that as a singular diagnosis is not that helpful, and you really need to understand exactly what the underlying cause is in order to resolve the problem. Even just knowing the underlying cause to know whether it’s something that can be helped with would be beneficial, In the case of a disc bulge, we can decrease a disc bulge here with our range of treatments, and therefore reduce the actual stenosis which will relieve symptoms. If the stenosis is occurring due to bony growths, or bone spurs, or due to a fracture, these are more sinister causes and the approach may need to be slightly different as you may not be able to actually eliminate the cause of the problem. It’s quite common for a stenosis to be caused as a result of a disc bulge, and when this is the case, the problem is relatively simple to deal with. If you’ve got a disc bulge that is relatively acute, where there’s not a collapse in the disc or an extremely limited amount of disc space left, treatment to take the pressure off the spine, heal the area more effectively and by integrating the right kind of stretches or exercises into your daily routine, will make it possible to reduce the invasion of disc material into the hole and reduce the stenosis.

Treatment For Advanced Spinal Stenosis

With a disc problem that is more advanced and degenerated, we would have a different approach from a treatment standpoint. The treatment approach has to change because instead of dealing with a disc that has a normal height and is just slightly bulging, the disc itself might have reduced in size by 50-75%. This is unfortunately something we see quite often at the clinic, and in this case the hole that the nerve is coming out of (called the lateral recess), is going to be impinged because your disc was keeping the space nice and tall before. Now the disc has reduced in height, it’s much smaller than before – so low grade inflammation and nicking of the ligaments here that wouldn’t normally cause a problem in the average person, can cause an awful lot of pain and discomfort in a patient with spinal stenosis. In that kind of patient, even just putting on their socks in the morning has the potential to cause a great deal of pain and irritation. How we would tailor our treatment and rehabilitative exercises to a case of degenerative stenosis as a result of a collapsed disc, would be entirely individual here.

Importance Of Muscle Strengthening

In the case of a spinal stenosis being caused by a pathology different to a disc bulge, there may be a limited amount that can be done to resolve the issue. So what could we do to help? Our approach would be to stabilise your core and back muscles to try to take some of the pressure of the structures in your spine and support your body. As your muscles can help support your everyday activities, the aim will be to try to reduce risk of irritation and inflammation by building up your supportive structures. As this kind of problem will be degenerative, it will be a case of trying to manage the problem in the long-term.

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We hope this article has been helpful for you, and provided you with some advice as to what questions you should be asking, as well as recovery prospects if you’ve been given a diagnosis of spinal stenosis. If you have any questions relating to your condition, please feel free to get in touch with us either by emailing us info@themayfairclinic.com or by calling 0203 947 3222. Remember to hit the share options below if you know someone suffering with spinal stenosis, or if you found the article helpful! The most important thing you need to ask yourself if you ever get diagnosed with spinal stenosis, is what is causing the stenosis? Is it something I can change? Or is it something that I have to manage?