Spinal stenosis is a condition that typically develops very slowly as we get older, usually occurring after the age of 50. There are cases, however, where curvature of the spine (scoliosis) or congenital factors may lead to spinal stenosis in younger individuals.
The majority of cases of spinal stenosis occur in the lower or lumbar spine. Slippage and misalignment of the vertebrae, known as spondylolisthesis, can also be a cause of spinal stenosis. The most common symptom of spinal stenosis is cramping or aching in the calves. As the condition advances, it becomes increasingly difficult to stand and walk due to the intensity of the resulting leg pain.
Treatments For Spinal Stenosis
A suitable program of physical therapy and exercise is a component of almost every spinal stenosis treatment program. While the spinal stenosis exercises are not a cure, it is important for patients to remain active as tolerated and not become additionally debilitated from inactivity.
To help reduce the pain, medicines which act as pain killers are often given. Nonsteroidal anti–inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), which constitute of drugs like ibuprofen, aspirin, naproxen and so on. Certain analgesics like acetaminophen are also given to help relieve the pain. Another way is to inject the patient with corticosteroid injections in the outermost membranes of the spinal cord that will help reduce inflammation, which in turn will reduce the pain in the leg or thigh region.
Consulting a certified massage therapist may also do the trick! However, ensure that you consult only a certified practitioner and also consult with your doctor before resorting to any kind of treatment. A massage therapist will provide you with the much needed relief for tired muscles and nerves and can also help you out by suggesting some useful exercises or postures. They can also employ hot or cold treatments, where they use hot or cold packs on the affected areas.
Acupuncture is an ancient science that involves stimulating certain nerves and centers in the body. This is done by a number of methods, but the most popular being using thin, long, metallic needles to penetrate through the body to stimulate particular areas. There has been evidence that this particular treatment provides respite to patients especially those complaining of lower back ache.
These injections are given on an out-patient basis and usually take 15 to 30 minutes to complete. The physician guides a needle into the epidural space (located within the spinal canal between the lamina and the sac around the nerve root called the dura mater or dura). Once the needle is in the correct position, the epidural steroid solution is slowly injected. Epidural injections use steroids as an anti-inflammatory agent and often include a fast-acting local anesthetic for temporary pain relief.
Surgery is often considered when the symptoms are of a very serious nature or when the physical therapy or medications don’t bring about any progress in the condition of the patient. Surgery is done to improve the alignment and strength of the spinal cord, and to reduce the pressure on the nerves so as to reduce pain. However, even with surgery the results are not hundred percent. If you have suffered pain from a long time, then chances are that even after surgery some pain may persist. In some cases, even with the help of MRI scans or CT scans it is difficult for the surgeon to operate. So before going with any option, you must discuss all the risk factors, the pros and cons so that you make a well informed decision.
Many doctors suggest physical therapy to help reduce the pain. You can also talk to your local chiropractor who can suggest exercises that are bound to reduce the pain in your neck region or the legs. These exercises will make your muscles stronger and more resistant to pain. They can also adjust your spine in such a way that pain will reduce by restoring normal spinal movement. A popular treatment option is spinal decompression therapy that is very helpful for patients. They may also resort to certain techniques that will allow the spaces between your spine to increase thus lowering the pressure on your nerves. You can also try changes in posture while sitting or walking to reduce pain in your limbs.