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What is Spinal Stenosis?

normal-lumbar-spine 390x390Modern medicine has enabled us to live longer than ever. At the turn of the century the average life expectancy was 49.2 years, it is now 77.5 years. If you have a few years under your belt, when you look in the mirror, things don't look exactly like they used to. You can see the effects of aging on your body. The hair is graying, the skin is wrinkling and good old gravity has caused many body parts to sag southward. What you see on the outside is also happening on the inside, the muscles are becoming smaller and weaker, the eyesight is dimming and the JOINTS ARE DEGENERATING or thinning out. This includes the spine or spinal joints.

For example the disc's of the spine make up 25% of the total length of the spine. As we age, the disc's thin out and we lose height, up to several inches if we have great length of years.  Other changes to the inner dimensions of the vertebrae also take place and this is termed SPINAL STENOSIS.

Lumbar-spinal-stenosis 380x380Spinal Stenosis by definition is: The narrowing of the spaces in the spine resulting in compression of the Spinal Cord or Spinal Nerves. Spinal Stenosis is the long term result of spinal degeneration (wear and tear) or arthritis and is typically associated with disc degeneration and a loss of disc height. It is primarily a condition of the elderly. The diagram to the left, demonstrates the impact that spinal stenosis has on the nerve system which in essence is to "choke it out."

The lumbar or low back spinal cord above in yellow is normal, while to the left the spinal cord is being squeezed and compressed as a result of long term wear and tear to the disc and boney structures of the spine. Because the spinal cord is the main "pipeline" for the flow of nerve energy coming down from the brain and out to all parts of the body, spinal stenosis reduces the flow, causing pain in the back and neck and weakness in the arms and legs.

Let's look at a top view of the spine where we can get another perspective on how Spinal Stenosis effects the spine and nerve system. You will notice in the diagram below an area called the "Spinal Canal." This is the passageway that the spinal cord runs through. On the left it is clear and open, on the right you can see bulky yellow soft tissue projections squeezing and compressing the spinal cord. Also seen on the right is arthritic overgrowth of the bone which is squeezing closed the spinal canal and choking the spinal cord  ...this is Spinal Stenosis.

spinal stenosis topview 800x

Symptoms of Lumbar (low back) Spinal Stenosis:

  • Back pain, either in the center or to the right or left
  • Leg/buttocks/thigh - pain, weakness, numbness and deep ache in one or both combined
  • Increased back pain, leg pain, weakness and numbness with prolonged standing or walking
  • Relief of back pain, leg pain, weakness and numbness with leaning forward on something or sitting 
  • General weakness of the legs to hold up the body

Symptoms of Cervical (neck) Spinal Stenosis:

  • Neck pain, either in the center or to the right or left
  • Arm pain, weakness, numbness and deep ache in the right, left or both arms combined
  • Increased neck pain, arm pain, weakness and numbness with prolonged backward neck or head movement
  • Relief of neck pain, arm pain, weakness and numbness with head or neck forward
  • General weakness of the arms to perform simple and repetitive tasks

When treated properly, Spinal Stenosis can respond favorably to Chiropractic care. One study showed that lumbar spinal stenosis patients improved by 76% and disability improved by 73% in 57 patients treated with "Cox Flexion Distraction" which is a method used in this office. Because Spinal Stenosis is related to long term degenerative changes, it is not possible to get 100% relief. Upwards of 50% relief of symptoms is considered an excellent outcome. The results you will achieve can only be determined through a 30 day course of care. The vast majority of our patients are grateful for the relief we can give them, however not every case responds. Remember, you did not get this way overnight.

If you, or a loved one, are experiencing pain contact our office to schedule a free NO obligation consultation with the doctor or email Dr. Garber with a question concerning your case for a quick response. Garber Chiropractic Care Center 770-386-7707
Chiropractic Care and Pain Relief for Cartersville, Acworth, Taylorsville, White and Euharlee GA.