Why is there a rise in the prevalence of Stenosis, crossing the age and gender boundaries to include the much younger group? Knowing what Stenosis is, which I explain in detail in this video here, the sedentary lifestyle and improper eating leading to weight gain play a huge role are two of the most common factors, but read more to see what else is involved and not looked at thoroughly.
It is not fun to live with pain and it is worse when you think you are stuck with the pain for the rest of your life! Some of the contributory factors can be eliminated and are developed as a result of choices we make, however, in small cases, one is actually born with a smaller size canal where the nerve exits the spine. Once again, click here to see what I mean.
In the latter case, I KNOW that the pre-existing case exists BUT why is it that after so long, pain comes to the surface? This blog is going to explore all of that.
Stenosis is narrowing of the spinal canal or the foramen (where the spinal nerves actually exit the spine) that leads to irritation of the nerve that goes through the given canal. It is typically found at one level but I have seen cases where the stenosis was multi-level. While it is commonly found in the lower back or Lumbar region, canal stenosis does exist in the neck or Cervical region as well.
COMMON SYMPTOMS OF STENOSIS:
Lower back pain, associated with pain that typically follows the nerve pattern (depends on the nerve that is being irritated). It is almost always (depending on how chronic the problem is) accompanied by vague pain in the outside and middle portion of the gluts on the same side of Stenosis.
It is commonly misdiagnosed as Sciatica and at times, Piriformis syndrome. Many of the stenotic patients I see in my practice have exhausted all other options, from medicine to physical therapy to occasional massage. Most of them have lost hope and see me because someone somewhere recommended Chiropractic and Dr. Shakib!
Similar to forming callus on the hands when one does heavy work without wearing gloves, it is easy to form extra thickness in the inner lining of the canal where the cord runs through or the foramen where the spinal nerves come out of.
The reason for this thickness is lack of stability provided by the actual bony structures within the spine. The thickening of this inner lining leads to a decrease in the canal size, therefore irritation of the involved nerve and its associated symptoms.
HOW DID THAT HAPPEN?
Short answer is misalignment of the spine. No I am not saying it because I am a Chiropractor and we fix spinal misalignment (or work toward the correction of the misalignment). You see, any structure has to have a strong foundation. For the human body, the strong foundation is in fact your back bone and back bone is not the lower back only! So if the spine itself, starting from the neck all the way to the pelvis, is not strong in holding itself up, the individual ‘bricks’ (the actual vertebra) can sit on top of each other without a strong hold.
The next level of structure that comes in to provide stability is the ligaments and muscles. Long term involvement of the specific ligaments I mentioned above lead to them becoming extra thick and since they are on the INSIDE of the canal, they simply lead to the canal becoming smaller than initially designed!
Additionally anything else, such as weight gain specially in the abdominal area, pulls the spine forward (look at a pregnant woman next time you see one and notice how the belly forces the whole lower back going forward). That is another major factor that plays a role in making stenosis become painful.
Any weakness in the musculature, core or not, plays a big role in symptoms associated with Stenosis. Of course, looking into the source of muscle weakness is like opening a can of worms.
I suggest you check out my youtube channel here and under the playlist LOWER BACK to learn about this specific area. It is worth looking into because chances are you, like most of my readers and non-readers, you sit way more than walk around during the day.
The most UNTOUCHED category of culprits is the relationship between the Brain and Posture. Here you can read more on this very subject to understand EXACTLY what I am talking about. I am trying to keep this blog at a reasonable length and don’t want to turn it into a book so please help yourself with the links I am providing to better educate Stenosis and health issues in general.
HOW TO FIX IT
The first thing is to lose weight and strengthen your core (what a cliche) but there is a much easier way to do so. In this video, I show you how you can purchase this very simple equipment and use it when at work to help build your core.
Make sure to get adjusted by your Chiropractor. Chiropractic adjustment is not going to make your stenosis go away. It simply activates your nervous system (gives you the spark to build the fire you are asking for!), and with the correct Brain based exercises that I provided the link above, you can now turn the spark into a flame.
Modifying your life style is similar to shielding the flame you have created from being put out. Once again, explore my youtube channel here for a series of related exercises (brain or not) related to strengthening your spine.
If you have stenosis, don’t ever feel that you are stuck with pain and need to learn to deal with it for the rest of your life. Don’t make yourself into a walking pharmacy. Take action and make a difference.
Remember, you are the Designer and the Director of your own life so design and direct it the way you wish to live it.
Yours for better health, always,
Mamak Shakib, DC