Spinal stenosis is a narrowing of one or more areas of the spinal canal. The spinal canal contains the nerve roots and spinal cord and it becomes compressed. This causes a “pinching” of the spinal cord and/or nerve roots, which leads to pain, cramping, weakness or numbness. Depending on where the narrowing takes place, you may feel these symptoms in the lower back and legs, neck, shoulder or arms. Spinal stenosis also causes loss of sexual function and/or abnormal bowel/bladder function.
Studies show that leaning forward can actually increase the space available for the nerves. Many patients note relief when leaning forward, especially with sitting. Arthritis is the most common cause of spinal stenosis.
- Advancing age
- Some people are born with conditions that cause spinal stenosis: some people are born with a small spinal canal or a curved spine (scoliosis)
- Other conditions, such as: tumours of the spine, Paget’s disease of bone, calcium deposits on the ligaments that run along the spine
Although there is no cure for spinal stenosis, but regular exercise, medication and in some cases surgery can provide relief. Non-surgical treatment options focus on restoring function and relieving pain. Although these methods not improving the narrowing of the spinal canal, many people report that these treatments do help relieve symptoms:
- Therapeutic soft tissue techniques
- Mobilisation techniques
- Exercise program: stretching and strengthening to increase spinal stability