The chiropractic approach to spinal stenosis is holistic and addresses the bottom line causes of the condition with the goal of long term wellness.
The best chiropractic treatment for spinal stenosis will be guided by accurate diagnosis, possibly from X-rays or other diagnostic methods, and an understanding of the patient’s clinical history.
As professional chiropractors, we have seen many of our patients overcome spinal stenosis with chiropractic assistance (without resorting to surgery or medications).
Here are answers to some common questions our patients ask us:
What is Spinal Stenosis?
The condition refers to narrowed or compressed spaces between your spinal bones.
The compression puts excess pressure on the nerves that traverse through the spine and impacts their signal relay function. The condition mostly occurs in the upper and lower back areas.
What Are the Symptoms of Spinal Stenosis?
As mentioned before, when the spinal bones press together, they interfere with the signal transmission functions of the nerves within the spinal cord. This neurological signal impairment often leads to:
- Feelings of pain and numbness in the neck and back
- Numbness in the legs and lower back
- Problems with balance and stability
- Difficulty in mobility in extreme cases of stenosis in the cervical spine
The above symptoms will affect either your upper back or lower back, depending on the part of the spinal cord where the stenosis has occurred.
What Are the Causes of Spinal Stenosis?
Some cases of narrow spinal canals are congenital, but on most occasions, the condition is a result of several factors including:
Spinal injuries: Trauma such as those from car accidents or falls can cause a dislocation of one or more bones of the spine. The inflammation of the surrounding tissues after back surgery may similarly put excess pressure on the spinal cord and its nerve network.
Stiff and thickened ligaments: Each of the bones in your spinal cord have tough tissues that join them to other bones. When this tough tissue thickens and bulges, it can lead to a case of spinal stenosis.
Bone overgrowth: Conditions such as osteoarthritis lead to wear and tear on the spinal bones, subsequently causing the formation of spinal spurs.
Old age/herniated discs: As you grow older, the soft cushioning material that works as a shock absorber between the spinal discs gradually dries out and flattens. The result is that the bones press heavily together and form bone spurs. Disc herniation may also be caused by injuries or a dislocation of the spinal bones.
How Do I Deal With the Pain From Spinal Stenosis?
There are several over the counter and prescription based painkillers that might help you cope with the pain from a compressed spinal cord.
Please note, however, that this is a temporary solution. The painkillers do not address or correct the causative factor for your condition and pain. Increased use of painkillers without tackling the root cause of a disease has, in many cases, led to over-dependence on the pain meds. That is the story of America’s Opioid addiction crisis.
It’s also important to remember that pain is only one of the many symptoms of spinal stenosis. You can mask the pain, but what about numbness, loss of balance, muscle weakness and impaired mobility? These concerns, therefore, call for a more comprehensive treatment approach for spinal stenosis to correct not only the symptoms but stem out their original cause once and for all.
How Does Chiropractic Care Help with Spinal Stenosis?
Chiropractic care is a wellness approach that targets healing through spinal manipulation.
There is reliable evidence to show that non-invasive and all-natural treatment options are effective against many forms of illnesses and health issues. Chiropractic is especially appropriate for spinal stenosis because it corrects and re-aligns dislocated and herniated discs, thus reducing pressure on the spinal cord and its joints and nerve networks.
Apart from spinal manipulation, chiropractors use a variety of techniques to address stenosis symptoms.
For instance, we may use expert massage in a chiropractic session to help to treat pain and reduce inflammation or various mechanical tools that can help address numbness and restore function to your muscles.
Personalized exercise and physiotherapy, which is also a part of chiropractic care, ultimately leads to physical strength, flexibility, and optimal spinal support.
(Have you ever wondered, “Is Chiropractic Safe“? Click to read our in-depth examination)
Chiropractic Care for Stenosis vs. Surgery
Chiropractic care for spinal stenosis is non-invasive, as seen earlier. After an initial diagnosis, the chiropractic doctor will identify the affected areas of your spinal cord and direct manual or machine-assisted spinal manipulations on those areas.
These processes happen without you having to “go under the knife.” Chiropractic treatment for spinal stenosis is often preferable because it is non-invasive, takes less time for patients to recover after the treatment and the costs involved are comparatively much lower.
On the other hand, a surgical approach to spinal stenosis may require that the surgeon removes a part of your vertebrae to take the pressure off your nerves. They may also have to widen the spinal spaces where the nerves exit. These procedures may be done in several areas of your spine and bone grafts or metal implants are later used to join the affected areas of your spine.
The invasive nature of surgery is associated with risks. Something could go wrong during the procedure or the internal alteration and removal of parts of your spine could lead to future complications. The costs for the procedures are high, and it takes a long time for patients to recover. That’s not to say surgery is never a good choice but it makes sense to evaluate all your options.
Chiropractic Care for Stenosis vs. Medications
Chiropractic therapy aims to treat spinal stenosis without medication. That is achieved through manual spinal adjustment, stretches and other therapies. The treatment may also tackle your pain through massage.
Compared to medications, chiropractic therapy aims to get at the root of your issues and address the core cause. This approach is intended to be a long term solution and does not carry any of the potentially harmful side effects of continuing to use pharmaceuticals.
The Role of Exercise in Relieving Spinal Stenosis
Exercise helps to strengthen the muscles around the back and reduce inflammation by increasing blood circulation to the affected areas. Physical therapy also improves your overall flexibility, which reduces stiff muscles that often worsen the symptoms of spinal stenosis.
A chiropractor will create a physical therapy routine that addresses your back pain and mobility issues from the condition. The exercise will incorporate several modalities that target to rectify the position of your spine and decompress the spinal nerves. Common routines include sustained lumbar extensions, seated lumbar flexion and pelvic tilts, among others.
How to Get Help With Your Spinal Stenosis
At Evolve Chiropractic, we provide evidence-based chiropractic care for spinal stenosis patients at our Illinois locations here:
- Chiropractor in Freeport
- Chiropractor in Gilberts
- Chiropractor in Huntley
- Chiropractor in McHenry
- Chiropractor in Palatine
- Chiropractor in Rockford (2 locations)
- Chiropractor in Schaumburg
- Chiropractor in St. Charles
- Chiropractor in Woodstock
We leverage the latest technology in the field, and together with our many years of experience, we welcome you to experience quick pain relief, long term wellness, and improved quality of life.