The spinal cord is an essential functional unit of the central nervous system. All major input and output messages to and from the brain are integrated in the spinal cord via secondary neurons. Spinal stenosis is an narrowing of spinal canal or the facet joints which greatly increases the pressure and stress on nerve tissues. Often age-related, spinal stenosis is a degenerative change in the architecture of vertebral column which decreases the patency or degree of openness of the spinal column, affecting the nerve transmission and functioning.
What is Spinal Stenosis?
Spinal stenosis is a chronic and slow developing condition that may limit mobility and physical functioning to a significant degree. The most common sites of spinal column narrowing are in the lower back or neck region. The condition may remain silent or asymptomatic until late in its progress or, conversely, may present at a very early stage.
Sign and Symptoms of Spinal Stenosis:
The signs and symptoms are slow and progressive. In the beginning, they may be manifest only on one side of the body. Eventually, however, the signs and symptoms may present on both sides of the body. Depending on the area of spine or nerve involvement, the symptoms may range from:
– Numbness or paresthesia of the lower body or lower limbs (if in the lower back region)or in the upper body (in the neck region)
– Moderate to severe pain that may be episodic or periodic; spasmodic or sustained
– Pain usually impacts the legs (calves), shoulders, hips or thigh region.
– Pain may become more marked after activity of the limbs and/or neck muscles.
– A general weakness of muscles, muscle groups or limb(s).
If left untreated, later stages of spinal stenosis may be complicated by:
– Issues of body balance while walking or after a sudden change in position.
– Urinary incontinence or issues with bowel control.
How does Spinal Stenosis develop?
The wear and tear of the aging process has a cumulative effect on the integrity and stability of the body’s skeletal architecture After 40 years, the reconstructive or repair mechanisms of the body slow down. As a consequence, the inter-vertebral discs become drier and begin to swell or bulge in response to normal changes in the spinal pressure. Additionally, there is a thickening of the supporting ligaments, muscles and soft tissue that stabilize the spine, further aggravating the onset of spinal stenosis.
The following risk factors, however, may lead to spinal stenosis at a much early age:
- Injury or accident in the region of spinal cord
- Degenerative joint disease or bone disorders including osteoporosis, achondroplasia, Paget’s disease)
- Previous history of spinal disc herniation or slipped disc
- Congenital defects of the spinal column or vertebral defects.
- Tumors that involve or originate in the spinal column.
Ace Physio’s Registered Physiotherapists are excellent at treating Spinal Stenosis.
Some of the treatment options currently include:
To book an appointment at Ace Physio please click here or call us today at 416-900-6653