When you are suffering with spinal stenosis symptoms finding spinal stenosis relief can be difficult. Discover how you can start with the easiest and most conservative spinal stenosis treatments to relieve your pain and get the help you need.
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"proceed in a logical progression"
If these first steps do not prove to be effective you can proceed in a logical progression to slightly more difficult, time consuming, or invasive therapies until you get spinal stenosis relief.
The Problem is Simple. The Nerves are being Squeezed.
Spinal stenosis is not a complicated concept to understand, but the anatomy involved, and spinal stenosis relief can be very complicated. Your spine combines bones that give it structure, muscles that give it motion, and your nervous system that controls the muscles.
"the result of living an active life"
Spinal stenosis is simply a narrowing of the space for the nerves in your spine. This generally develops over many years and is the result of living an active life. It is most commonly the lumbar spine, or lower back, that is affected.
When a nerve is being squeezed in the lower spine, pain and other symptoms will occur in the area that nerve serves.
Wherever that Nerve Goes
If the nerve that is being pinched goes to the outside of your thigh, you will feel pain in the outside of your thigh, even though the nerve is being pinched in your back.
There may be other spinal stenosis symptoms such as weakness, numbness, or a needles and pins sensation. If the nerve that controls the muscles of your foot is being squeezed where it comes out of your spine, you may have weakness of the muscles in your foot.
"serious spinal stenosis symptoms"
One of the most dangerous and serious spinal stenosis symptoms is cauda equina syndrome; this occurs when the nerves that control the muscles of your bowels and bladder are being squeezed. Weakness of these muscles can cause incontinence and/or other problems controlling your bowels and bladder.
Cauda equina syndrome requires immediate treatment to prevent permanent impairment. Any time you are having back pain and/or sciatica, if you develop sudden weakness in your lower extremities or begin having difficulty controlling your bowels or bladder you need to seek immediate treatment. If these symptoms are not treated quickly they may become irreversible.
"confirm your diagnosis"
Whenever you think you may be developing spinal stenosis symptoms, before you begin looking for spinal stenosis relief, it is always wise to check with your doctor to confirm your diagnosis. There are many other conditions that can mimic the symptoms of spinal stenosis.
Lower back and leg pain may be caused by arthritis in your hip that radiates pain up into your back and down into your thigh. Numbness in your leg may be caused by piriformis syndrome, or bursitis may produce pain along the lateral thigh.
Conditions that may lead to spinal stenosis symptoms are conditions that narrow, or take up, the space for the nerves.
Arthritis in your spine may cause spinal stenosis when bone spurs put pressure on the nerves.
Inflammation from the arthritis or degenerative disc disease in your spine may cause swelling of the surrounding tissue and squeeze the nerves.
Overgrown ligaments from a lifetime of bending and lifting, become thick and stiff leaving little space for the nerves.
Bulging or herniated discs may force their way into the small openings crushing the nerves.
"the treatment that targets your specific condition"
Most cases of spinal stenosis have some combination of these four conditions. Some people may have more of one thing, and less of another. Some people have all of these conditions combined; and some people have symptoms that are caused by only one of these conditions.
This is why the same treatment does not provide spinal stenosis relief for everyone. The most effective treatment will be the treatment that targets your specific condition.
Your doctor can order the appropriate studies to determine exactly what is causing your spinal stenosis symptoms and advise you on which spinal stenosis treatment might be best for you.
"begin taking better care of your back"
Finding spinal stenosis relief means finding ways to relieve the pressure on the nerves. If your symptoms are not severe and do not prevent normal activities you could try some simple home therapies, and begin taking better care of your back.
Always check with your doctor before starting any new medication because some of these medicines for spinal stenosis relief may effect your blood pressure, your diabetes, or other medical conditions you may have.
Anti-inflammatories such as naproxen or a ibuprofen can relieve pain and reduce swelling and inflammation that may be causing pressure on nerve.
Newer drug treatments include anti depressants and anti seizure medications that have been successfully used to treat pain.
Topical ointments and rubs may also relieve pain and swelling.
Holistic treatment with herbal remedies and other natural treatments may bring spinal stenosis relief with less risk of side effects.
"swelling causes increased pressure"
Practicing good back mechanics and avoiding activities that aggravate your spinal stenosis symptoms. Some people can obtain reasonable spinal stenosis relief by restricting their activities.
Similar to when you have arthritis in your knee, if you walk, run, jump, squat, or do other things to aggravate it, it will become painful and swollen.
When this occurs in your back, the swelling causes increased pressure on the nerves and more spinal stenosis symptoms.
Avoid bending and lifting as much as possible, and when you must bend, bend at your hips not in your back. Get a small stool to sit on when you load the dishwasher, use a reacher to get close out of the dryer, and think of other ways to do things so you can avoid bending.
Rearrange your life. In your kitchen, and around your home, put the objects that you use the most up where you can get them without bending. Put the pots and pans and other things that you use most in the upper cupboards where they are easy to reach, and put the things that you seldom use in the lower cupboards.
Hire a teenager to do your yard work, scrub your floors, move your furniture and take care of any other chores that make your symptoms worse.
Get a new mattress if yours is worn out or too soft. Your mattress is where you spend 1/3 your life; so find the best mattress for your symptoms
If these conservative treatments fail to provide any spinal stenosis relief you may want to consider other more aggressive therapies.
Physiotherapy treatment can help you:
Correct any problems with your posture that may be contributing to your symptoms
Learn an aerobic exercise program to improve your general conditioning and lose weight
"consider slightly more invasive treatments"
If these noninvasive therapies do not relieve your symptoms you may want to consider slightly more invasive treatments such a steroid injections. The goal of steroid injections is to reduce swelling and painful inflammation.
Reducing the swelling of inflamed tissues will remove the pressure and create more room for the nerves. These injections may be placed into the spinal canal where the steroid medication will bathe the nerves and surrounding tissues.
If your doctor thinks your symptoms are being caused by arthritis and swelling of the facet joints, he may put the steroid medication directly into the joint.
"some people get 100% relief"
The success of these steroid injections providing spinal stenosis relief is very variable, because there may be more than one condition causing your symptoms. On the other hand, the risk of developing serious side effects or adverse complications is very limited, and some people get 100% relief.
When less invasive treatments have failed to provide adequate spinal stenosis relief steroid injections seem to be a reasonable consideration.
"surgery with modern materials and advanced techniques"
When noninvasive treatments such as anti-inflammatories and physical therapy do not improve your symptoms, and if after a series of steroid injections you are still unable to resume normal activities, your doctor may refer you for evaluation by a surgeon.
In the past, spinal stenosis surgery has been a very invasive procedure, requiring long periods of anesthesia and months of recovery. But today, surgery with modern materials and advanced techniques can often be done through smaller incisions and require only a few days in the hospital.
"you must understand and consider the risks and benefits"
The primary goal of surgery is to make more room for the nerves by removing any bone or other tissues that are squeezing the nerves. In some cases if the surgeon is concerned about your spine becoming unstable you may also discuss a spinal stabilization with you.
The exact surgery that you need must be determined by your surgeon and discussed with you. Before agreeing to any you must understand and consider the risks and benefits. You may want to ask your surgeon about these directly when discussing surgery.
"find the maximum amount of relief with the least amount of risk"
When you are searching for spinal stenosis relief your goal should be to find the maximum amount of relief with the least amount of risk. You can do this by starting with the least invasive and most conservative treatments. If your symptoms continue to be intolerable you may then want to progress to more aggressive therapies.
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