Stenosis is a Greek term meaning "narrowing or constricting space". This occurs in the spinal column where the spinal cord, nerve roots and vertebrae are located. Stenosis is a condition where the openings in the spine get smaller. The problem of stenosis is the openings can get smaller and pinch your spinal cord or spinal nerves.
Because stenosis is a narrowing of the openings of the spine it can occur anywhere in the spine. The 2 most common areas stenosis can occur are in the cervical and the lumbar portion of the spine. (Neck and low back) It’s more common in the lumbar, but tends to be a bigger problem when it’s in the cervical. Cervical stenosis is a bigger problem because of the relationship of the spine and the spinal cord in the cervical.
In order to better understand stenosis you need to understand the spine. And it’s my experience with treating any spinal condition when the patient understands the problem the outcome of the treatments is better.
- The spine had 24 bones from your neck to your low back these are known as vertebrae.
- In-between each vertebra there is a disc. The discs do 2 things;
- They allows for each vertebra to move in six directions
- The discs act like shock absorbers.
- The main purpose of the spine is to protect your spinal cord; the spinal cord runs inside the spine through the spinal canal. This is typically one of the places where stenosis will occur. When the opening of the canal gets smaller the spinal cord will be squeezed (pinched). This is known as canal stenosis.
- Between each vertebra there is a nerve that exits the spine. This opening is known as the foramen. This is the second area where stenosis will occur. This is known as foraminal stenosis.
What Are the Symptoms of Spinal Stenosis?
- Lower back Pain
- Pain in the legs
- Stenosis may pinch the nerves that control muscle power and sensation in the legs
- Frequent falling
- Pain and difficulty when walking
- Numbness, tingling, hot or cold feelings in the legs
What Causes Spinal Stenosis?
So to review, we know that the spinal cord travels through the spine. Wherever the spinal cord travels is where you can have a problem. The openings can get smaller and pinched the spinal cord or the spinal nerves. This is known as stenosis. It can happen in the canal inside the spine or it can happen as the nerves exit the spine in the foramen.
You need to know that the spine will wear out leading to degeneration. This process will cause the openings to get smaller. It has to do mostly with gravity and degeneration. This process is related to degeneration of the disc.
The good news is that the process can be reversed. To reverse disc degeneration you need to heal the discs. To reverse stenosis you must take the pressure off the spine. At the Illinois Back Institute we can treat your stenosis with Functional Disc Rehydration, by taking the pressure off of vertebral discs, allowing oxygen and nutrients into a disc’s nucleus. Then we focus on reintegrating and reactivating the muscles by strengthening and stabilizing the spine.