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Living with Spinal Stenosis: Symptoms, Treatment & 13 Facts to Consider

December 28, 2017

According to the Mayo Clinic, spinal stenosis affects over 200,000 Americans every year. So if you are experiencing spinal stenosis symptoms, you are certainly not alone. But what is this condition that affects thousands?


Spinal stenosis is a narrowing of the spinal canal. Your spine contains a row of 26 bones making up the contents of your back. This allows you to move around freely and stand up straight. Also serving as a bodyguard for your spinal cord, it prevents injury. Having spinal stenosis tightens your spine, places pressure on the cord and nerves causing you intense amounts of back pain.

What are Spinal Stenosis Symptoms?

Oddly enough, some suffering from this disease report no known signs or symptoms while others experience intense pain. That pain includes:

  • Tingling
  • Numbness
  • Muscle weakness
  • Problems with normal bladder or bowel function
  • Shooting pain running down your leg
  • Problems in the foot
  • Unable to perform sexual activities

If your daily pain levels increase tremendously, it's best to call your doctor or specialist —relaying all of your symptoms to him or her in order to find an appropriate treatment regime for you and your needs.

What are My Treatment Options for Spinal Stenosis?

If you receive a spinal stenosis diagnosis — depending on your symptoms — your physician may direct you to a specialist and/or a specific treatment regime. Those options include a:

Physical Therapist. A licensed health care professional, a physical therapist can assist patients to diminish pain and improve or restore mobility.

Rheumatologist. If you received spinal stenosis due to arthritis, your doctor may refer you to a specialist like this to treat the cause of your diagnosis. Rheumatologists treat arthritis, autoimmune diseases, pain disorders affecting joints, and osteoporosis.

Neurologist. This includes neurologists and/or neurosurgeons who treat diseases relating to your nervous system.

Orthopedic Surgeon. Depending on the severity of your condition, you may be referred to an orthopedic surgeon who specializes in problems relating to your bones, ligaments, and joints. Surgery should be considered if the symptoms impair you from walking —if you have problems with bladder or bowel function, and/or if you have continued issues with your nervous system. You will need to consult your doctor or specialist to find out if surgery is a valid treatment option.

Targeted Drug Delivery. If you are severely suffering from this condition, painkillers prescribed from your doctor may assist in treating your daily pain, however, you may want to review our pros and cons of using opioid drugs for pain relief to avoid any substance abuse or addiction risk factors.

Alternative Treatments. Chiropractic care and acupuncture are the alternative treatments your doctor may encourage you to try. Your medical professional may also suggest standard treatments alongside these alternative ones.

Receiving physical therapy to relieve spinal stenosis symptoms.Caption: Spinal manipulation, which is practiced by chiropractors, osteopathic physicians, naturopathic physicians, and physical therapists involves the use of the practitioner's hands or a device to apply a controlled force to a joint of the spine. The amount of force applied depends on the form of manipulation used.

The goal of these treatments is to relieve pain, improve physical functioning, and quality of life so that the patient can live well.


Can I Relieve Spinal Stenosis Symptoms at Home?

It's important to discuss home remedies for spinal stenosis with your doctor prior to using any of the below. If they approve, some home remedies include:

Pain Relievers. Over-the-counter ibuprofen, Advil, Motrin, and Aleve may assist in decreasing your pain and inflammation.

Hot or Cold Packs. Cervical spinal stenosis may be relieved by using a heating pad and/or ice pack on the affected area.

Diet and Nutrition. Obesity is a contributing factor and by losing any surplus weight, you may feel a reduction in the stress that's placed on the lumbar spine.

Equipment. Canes and/or walkers may help to improve stability. They aid in relieving your pain by allowing you to bend while walking.

Exercise. Although it may sound as if moving around would do more harm than good, light walking or exercise actually helps in decreasing the symptoms of spinal stenosis, however, it's very important to receive approval from your doctor before taking on too much. 

You can be active with spinal stenosis.Caption: There is a link between depression and vitamin D deficiency. Go for a leisurely walk if you are able. It doesn't have to be a sprint, just feel the wind on your face.


Living with Spinal Stenosis:

If you are one of the roughly 200,000 Americans every year who live with spinal stenosis, life after your diagnosis is possible. You just have to find the treatment options that work best for you and your symptoms.

Although there are no known cures for this spinal disorder, living with spinal stenosis comfortably is possible.

Last change: December 28, 2017
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