Do You Have Severe Spinal Stenosis Symptoms? Try This Easy Treatment For Spinal Stenosis!

 

 

Spinal Stenosis

 

Severe spinal stenosis symptoms are not very common. Usually the symptoms are mild to moderate, but they can affect both the lower back and legs. If you are suffering with severe back pain, there are probably other problems on top of any spinal stenosis that might be present. Treatment for spinal stenosis in most cases can only offer a temporary fix, and it really depends on the underlying cause as to how effective any treatment will be. Read on to find out why.

 

What is Spinal Stenosis?

Spinal stenosis occurs when the spinal openings or canals for the nervous system become narrowed. This can either affect the central spinal canal, where the spinal cord descends from the brain, or more commonly it will occur where the spinal nerves exit from the spine. This canal where the nerves exit from the spine is called the neural foramen.

 


Because the spinal cord and nerves are totally encased by bone, if the Central Spinal Canal or the Neural Foramen become too narrow, the bone can start to compress the nerves.

Central canal stenosis symptoms are rare, as it needs to be moderate to severe narrowing before it will compress the spinal cord.

Most commonly it is foraminal stenosis that causes problems as the bone encroaches on the spinal nerve.

 

What Causes Spinal Stenosis?

There several different causes that can lead to narrowing of the spinal canals.

  • Spinal Degeneration. Most cases of spinal stenosis are a result of degenerative changes as we get older. This is basically a result of wear and tear of the spinal structures. Degenerative disc disease decreases the space between the vertebra, therefore narrowing the neural foramen. Formation of bone spurs (particularly around facet joints) can grow into the spinal canal, encroaching on the nerves.
  • Herniated or Bulging Discs. If the disc is pushing into the spinal canal or neural foramen, it can create nerve pressure and irritation. Read more about the discs here.
  • Hereditary. Some people are born with a smaller spinal canal. This may cause symptoms from an early age, but more likely just makes you more susceptible as you age.
  • Spondylolisthesis. This condition occurs when one vertebra slips forward on the one below. This can be the result of degenerative changes or an injury. The forward slippage can create a narrowing of the spinal canals.
  • Tumours. Although not common, abnormal growths can invade the spinal canals, creating spinal stenosis.

 

 Spinal Stenosis Symptoms.

Spinal stenosis can cause lower back pain as well as pain in the legs. Leg pain can be cramping, achy, or even like sciatica. It is often aggravated by extended periods of activity, such as walking or standing.

Lumbar nerve compression from stenosis can affect the nerves that control muscle power and sensation in the legs.

This can lead to weakness, tingling or numbness. In severe cases it can even effect bowel and bladder function. This requires immediate medical attention.

The symptoms of spinal stenosis can often be relieved bending forwards. This helps to open up the spinal canals and reduce nerve pressure. Sufferers will often need to sit for a few minutes if they have been walking or standing for a while.

Lumbar spinal stenosis symptoms are also medically known as 'neural claudication'. This means leg pain when walking, and can also be caused by vascular insufficiency (problems with the blood circulation). It is important to get a correct diagnosis if you have claudication. But as a general idea, stenosis pain can be worse when walking down hill, but not as bad going up hill (as you lean forwards slightly, decompressing the nerves!) Vascular claudication is often worse going up hill as it requires more exertion.

 

Treatment For Spinal Stenosis.

Although there is no cure as such for spinal stenosis, the following treatments are the most common. Depending on the severity and site, one of the following options can be considered.

  • Medications. NSAID's (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory) drugs, painkillers and muscle relaxants are often prescribed for spinal stenosis. They may help to temporarily relieve the pain, but do not correct the cause and carry side effects.
  • Injections. Cortico-steroids may be injected to reduce inflammation and reduce nerve pressure around the swollen and irritated nerves. See above.
  • Surgery. Surgery may be considered if more conservative treatments haven't helped or if you're disabled by your symptoms. The goal is to relieve the pressure on your spinal cord or nerve roots by creating more space within the spinal canal. Most commonly a Laminectomy, which is where the posterior, or back, part of the spine is removed to allow more space for the nerves. Often the affected vertebra will also be fused to the vertebra on either side.
  • Activity Modification. For most spinal stenosis cases, the pain is relieved when bending forwards, and aggravated when bending backwards. Being aware of this allows you to modify your behaviours and avoid activities that cause pain, for example working over head such as hanging out washing. Diet and nutrition also play a roll. Maintaining a healthy weight means less stress and strain on the spine, and overweight people tend to have to lean backwards slightly which can increase nerve compression.
  • Exercise and Physical Therapy. Activity can aggravate spinal stenosis, so it is common that sufferers will become less active to reduce their pain. This can lead to muscle weakness and further spinal instability. So it is important to maintain a reasonable level of exercise to maintain strength and fitness. An exercise program such as Total Back Pain Solution, which is designed specifically to improve long term spinal stability, is of the most benefit.

 

This exercise is well known to relieve the symptoms of spinal stenosis because it opens up the spinal canal space. Start by lying on your back, them simply pull both of your knees to your chest and hold them there for 10-30 seconds. This brings your spine into a flexed posture and widens the space for the nerves. Easy and effective!

This simple treatment for spinal stenosis can give quick relief from back pain, even if you have severe spinal stenosis symptoms. But the real key is working towards improving your spinal control and stability.

 

Always seek professional advice when suffering from back pain, as there are many different causes. Mostly these will be a mechanical problem (read more here), but can sometimes be the sign of something more sinister.

Fortunately, many people successfully manage the symptoms of spinal stenosis with the non-surgical therapies. For others, symptoms may become disabling and surgery may be considered.

 

If you have any questions, or would like to share your own experience, please leave us a comment below.

Also, if you have found this article helpful, please share it so we can help even more people! Thankyou.

 

What Causes Sciatic Pain? Can Exercises For Sciatica Help?

 

 

Sciatica

 

Sciatica is the name that is given to a common type of pain that radiates along the sciatic nerve, a large nerve that runs down the back of the leg. This article will help to explain what causes sciatic pain, and guide you to which exercises for sciatica may be of benefit.

 

What is Sciatica?

Sciatica is not a medical diagnosis as such, but rather a way to describe a particular set of symptoms that can occur due to an underlying medical condition that causes compression of the sciatic nerve.

sciatic-nerveThese symptoms of sciatica are usually only on one side, and may be one of, or a combination of:

  • Pain that runs from the lower back down the back of the leg or buttock. The pain can vary from a mild ache to a sharp, burning or shooting pain that can become debilitating.
  • Pain that is worse when sitting.
  • You may experience numbness, tingling or weakness in the affected leg.
  • The pain can be made worse by coughing or sneezing.
  • Sharp pain that can make it difficult to walk.

 

 

The sciatic nerve is the largest nerve in the body and is about the diameter of your thumb. It runs from the lower back all the way down your leg and as well as being the biggest, it is also the longest nerve in the body. It is derived from the spinal nerves that exit the spine from L4 through to S3 joining together.

The symptoms of sciatica occur when the any one of these nerve roots that form the sciatica nerve is being compressed or irritated in the lumbar spine. This is what people classically think of as a 'pinched' nerve. It is not usually the result of a single injury, but an accumulation over time.

 

sciatica

 

Most cases of sciatica will do away over time. How ever you should seek urgent medical attention if the pain has a sudden onset, is the result of a bad injury such as a car accident, it is not getting better after a week, or if you ever have trouble controlling your bowel or bladder.

 

What Causes Sciatica?

Compression of the sciatic nerve is most commonly caused by a herniated disc at the L5-S1 spinal level. You can read more about herniated discs here.

Other causes of sciatica are:

  • Degenerative disc disease (breaking down of the spinal discs, read more here.)
  • Spinal stenosis (narrowing of the spinal nerve canals in the lumbar spine, usually as a result of calcification/bone spurs.)
  • Spondylolysthesis (a condition where one vertebra slips forward on the vertebra below.)
  • Piriformis Syndrome (a muscle in the buttock that can compress the sciatic nerve if it spasms.)
  • Sacro-iliitis (Dysfunction of the sacro-iliac joint can irritate the L5 nerve root)

Rarer causes of sciatica may include pregnancy, spinal tumour, scar tissue, or infection.

 

Exercises For Sciatica

It is important to obtain an accurate diagnosis from your health care professional before starting any exercises, particularly if you are suffering with sciatica. There is not much point in stretching your Piriformis muscle if you have a disc herniation! And this is exactly why you have to be very careful before attempting any exercise regime. There is a real possibility that you could aggravate your condition if you do the wrong thing.

The next article will guide you through the exercises that will help to relieve sciatica, relevant to the cause. Try to start exercising as soon as possible, within a few days of the sciatica flaring up. The longer you leave it the worse the condition becomes. You can find the article that covers the exercises (with diagrams) by clicking this link.

 

Before beginning any exercise program, particularly exercises for sciatica, you should see a health professional to get a correct diagnosis for your pain to rule out any potentially serious problems. We would like to stress again the importance of a correct diagnosis, that way it will give you the best chance to really find out if sciatica exercises relieve pain.

The proper exercises differ based on the underlying condition that is causing the sciatic pain, so patients should not try to self-treat their sciatica before consulting a health professional or spinal specialist such as a chiropractor.

 

If you have any questions, or would like to share your own experience, please leave us a comment below.

Also, if you have found this article helpful, please share it so we can help even more people! Thankyou.

 

What Does Herniated Disc Lower Back Pain Feel Like?

 

 

Herniated Disc Lower Back Pain

 

When it is bad, herniated disc lower back pain is probably the most painful thing that could ever happen to you! The level of pain can become debilitating. And it might not be just limited to your back. The pain can be shooting down your leg in severe cases (known as sciatica).

Fortunately, these sorts of severe cases are not that common. But most herniated discs in the lower back (the L4-L5 spinal level is the most common) are going to be uncomfortable.

Herniated Disc

The spinal discs are often described as being like a jelly doughnut. The discs have a tough outer layer (annulus fibrosus) and a softer, jelly like centre (nucleus pulposus). A herniation occurs when some of the softer centre pushes out through tears or cracks in the annulus fibrosus. These cracks and tears can form as part of the degenerative process, or as a result of injury to the disc. 

 More details on the spinal discs can be found by reading  Spinal Discs. Are They Causing your Back Pain?
 
The North American Spine Society defines lumbar disc herniation with radiculopathy as “. . . localized displacement of disc material beyond the normal margins of the intervertebral disc space resulting in pain, weakness or numbness in a myotomal or dermatomal distribution.”

You can actually have a herniated disc in your spine without even knowing about it. They can even show up on spinal scans of people that have no back pain at all. However, if the ruptured disc is pressing on or irritating the spinal nerves, the disc herniation is likely to cause pain and possibly other symptoms. 

 

 

The most common signs and symptoms of a herniated disc in the lower back are:

Lower back and/or leg pain.

Depending on the size of the herniation, you may have a dull low back ache if there is only a small herniation (that can be hard to differentiate from Degenerative Disc Disease), through to intense shooting pain into the buttocks and leg. Pain down the leg is due to the herniated disc pressing on the nerves from the spine that run down the leg, it is usually referred to as sciatica.

Numbness or tingling.

Nerve compression as a result of a disc herniation can alter the nerve signals, resulting in a change of sensation such as numbness or tingling.

Weakness.

Muscles that are supplied by a nerve that is being compressed tend to become weak due to a loss of proper nerve messages. This may cause you to stumble or trip, and you may have difficulty getting out of a chair. 

If the disc herniation is extremely large, it can compress the nerves enough to cause a loss of sensation in the groin/saddle area, and bowel and bladder problems (for example, incontinence). This is known as Cauda Equina Syndrome. It is a medical emergency and you should seek medical attention immediately.

 

Diagnosis

Correct diagnosis of a herniated disc requires spinal imaging. X-rays show bone, but do not show the soft discs. So either a CT Scan or an MRI is required. This will allow your doctor to see whether you have a herniated disc, and exactly where it is in your spine.

Initially, your doctor should take a careful medical history to find out where you are feeling the pain, what the pain feels like, and how long you have been suffering. Your doctor should also ask how the pain started. Was there an injury or some kind of twisting, bending or reaching movement. They wil want to know if you have any weakness, numbness or tingling.

Neurological examination is also helpful, and you may have your reflexes, strength and ability to feel light touches, pinpricks or vibration.

 

Treatment For a Herniated Disc.

If it is determined that you have a herniated disc, you will have some choices regarding possible treatment strategies. Most herniated discs will resolve themselves over time, but this can take several months.

In severe cases where the herniated disc is compressing nerves, spinal surgery may eventually be an option. A Discectomy (removing the disc, or, usually, a small portion of it) can be performed to take the pressure off the nerves. However, all surgery is risky, and should only be performed in exceptional cases where all other options have been exhausted.

Medications such as pain killers, anti-inflammatories, or steroids (such as Cortisone) can relieve the pain, but do not fix the underlying problem.

Chiropractic manipulation can increase spinal range of motion, relieve nerve pressure, restore blood flow and reduce muscle tension. It is low risk and has a very good success rate.

Ultrasound and massage can help to restore blood flow and reduce muscle tension. Hot and cold therapy, losing weight and quitting smoking are all known to be beneficial as well.

A specific exercise program designed to progressively stabilise the spine and increase flexibility, such as the Total Back Pain Solution, is often the only way to achieve long-term healing for most sufferers of a bulging spinal disc.

 

Most people with a herniated disc can make a full recovery with the right help. Unfortunately, there is not usually a quick fix. Recovery periods vary from several days to several months, depending on the severity and other factors such as age, weight, whether or not you are a smoker, commitment to a treatment program, etc.

It is important to understand what causes the discs to wear and tear in the first place. You can read more about that by reading What Causes Back Pain?

The vast majority of treatments for herniated disc lower back pain are solely focused on pain relief. Whilst critical at the start, a more long term approach to rehabilitating and stabilising the spine is the only solution to prevent a recurrence.

 

If you have any questions, or would like to share your own experience, please leave us a comment below.

Also, if you have found this article helpful, please share it so we can help even more people! Thankyou.

 

Do You Have Bulging Disc Lower Back Pain? What Are Your Bulging Disc Treatment Options.

 

 

 

Bulging Discs And Lower Back Pain

 

Although it sounds like a serious problem, bulging disc lower back pains are usually not severe, and bulging disc treatment options are often very effective at resolving any back pain that you might be suffering with.

Like all disc problems though, it can be very hard to determine exactly what is causing back pain, and often the differing terms (disc bulge, herniation, degeneration) are used interchangeably. In particular, a disc bulge is often confused with a disc herniation, but they are actually different things. We will be covering this in more detail as you read through. 

Another thing that might be somewhat of a surprise is how common bulging discs are, even if you are not experiencing any symptoms. A study that was published in the highly regarded New England Medical Journal in July 1994 by M.C. Jensen titled ‘ Magnetic Resonance Imaging of the Lumbar Spine in People without Back Pain.’ examined scans of people who had no symptoms of back pain.

They found that 52% had disc bulges! That is, over half of  people with no back pain had a bulging spinal disc! And this number increases with age.

 

128805-532318-30A bulging disc occurs when the discs inner material, the nucleus pulposus, starts to squeeze out into the outer ring of the disc (annulus fibrosis). This can cause the disc to swell and bulge. It is thought to be a natural part of the ageing process, like Degenerative Disc Disease. This process will happen quicker if their has been an injury to the disc through trauma, or long term spinal stress and strain as a result of things like poor posture and prolonged sitting. Smoking is also known to speed up disc problems.

It is worth mentioning that discs do bulge very slightly when we are standing as they absorb our body weight.

A bulging disc is not necessarily a sign that anything serious is happening to your spine, and they often do not cause any pain.

But, if the bulge is large enough it can press into the spinal canal. This can directly irritate the spinal nerves, resulting in pain. If there is any calcification or spurs (also known as osteophytes) in the area the problem can become much worse.

The easiest way to think of a bulge is as a generalised swelling of the disc. A herniation is different, and occurs when the gel like nucleus pulposus actually squeezes through cracks in the fibres of the annulus fibrosis and pushes out into the spinal canal. The gel like nucleus can even squirt out into the area behind the disc, and this can result in severe pain and neurological problems if it compresses the nerves.

The best way to diagnose a bulging disc is with an MRI. Because the discs are soft tissue, they can not be seen effectively on an X-ray.

 

 

This MRI shows a disc bulge at the L4-L5 spinal level. In the centre of the picture you will see the vertebra of the spinal column like a stack of blocks. The lighter coloured pancakes in between are the discs.

You will notice that one of the discs is darker in colour, and is bulging to the right, into the spinal canal where the spinal nerves are. This is a disc bulge. The darker colour of the disc is generally indicative of dehydration of the disc, a result of Degenerative Disc Disease. Bulging discs and degenerative change usually go hand in hand.

 

Symptoms of Bulging Disc Lower Back Pain

Like Degenerative Disc Disease, the symptoms of a bulging disc vary. As mentioned above, 52% of people with no back pain at all have a disc bulge. Some people may only experience occasional back ache in the mid-line. 

However, if the bulge is large enough to irritate a spinal nerve you can experience severe back pain on one side that may even extend into your buttocks or down your leg. You may even have some numbness or tingling, or muscle weakness. (Although the more severe signs are usually due to a disc herniation.)

 

Bulging Disc Treatment Options.

In severe cases where the disc bulge is compressing nerves, spinal surgery may be an option. A Laminectomy (removing the posterior, bony portion of the vertebra) or a Discectomy (removing the disc) can be performed to take the pressure off the nerves. However, all surgery is risky, and should only be performed in exceptional cases where all other options have been exhausted.

As per the treatment for Degenerative Disc Disease, there are several other, more conservative options.

Medications such as pain killers and anti-inflammatories can relieve the pain, but do not fix the underlying problem.

Chiropractic manipulation can increase spinal range of motion, relieve nerve pressure, restore blood flow and reduce muscle tension. It is low risk and has a very good success rate.

Ultrasound and massage can help to restore blood flow and reduce muscle tension.

A specific exercise program designed to progressively stabilise the spine and increase flexibility, such as the Total Back Pain Solution, is often the only way to achieve long-term healing for most sufferers of a bulging spinal disc.

Hot and cold therapy, losing weight and quitting smoking are all known to be beneficial as well.

Once you understand that spinal problems like a disc bulge, or facet joint pain are all the end result of an underlying spinal instability, it becomes obvious that it is ultimately up to ourselves to protect our spine by looking after it correctly. Only by doing this and making a little effort can we look forward to a life that is not limited by whether by the level of our back pain.

 

                               Next Page: What Does Herniated Disc Lower Back Pain Feel Like?

 

If you have any questions, or would like to share your own experience, please leave us a comment below.

Also, if you have found this article helpful, please share it so we can help even more people! Thankyou.

 

 

TBPS banner1    [tptn_list]

Quickly Ease Back Pain Without Medication!

 

 

7 Key Things You Can Do Right Now To Ease Your Back Pain!

 

Back Pain Relief

When your back hurts, you want it to stop NOW! It’s not just the pain, but the way that back pain affects everything that you do. It can be very restricting and can limit the way you live. In short, it is just no fun having a sore back! Whilst these tips will only relieve your back pain temporarily until the underlying problem is corrected, they are the best way to ease back pain without having to take medication. They may seem overly simple, but believe me, they are easy techniques that work, and you can do them almost anywhere!

 

1. Go for a walk. Walking is our most natural movement. If you are able to walk without too much pain, this is the one thing that will start to improve your back pain quickly, particularly if you are suffering with low back pain.

 

2. Use ice packs. This is most useful if you have a recent back injury. Wrap something from your freezer (ice, frozen vegetables, an ice pack if you have one) in a small towel and apply it directly onto the painful area. It should feel cold, but not ‘freezing’ or painful. Leave the ice pack on for 10-15 minutes, but no longer. This can be repeated every hour.

 

3. Drink lots of water. The spinal discs like water. A lot of back pain comes from injury or damage to the spinal discs, being well hydrated keeps them happy!

 

4. Don’t sit! More and more research is showing that excessive sitting can be damaging our backs. It is important if you have a sedentary lifestyle that involves hours of sitting each day that you get up and give your back a rest regularly.

 

5. Rest lying on your back with your knees bent. This can be on your bed with a couple of pillows under your knees, or on the floor with your feet and lower legs up on a chair. This position takes all the stress and strain off your back.

 

6. Extend yourself! Standing up with your hands on your lower back, slowly arch backwards. Just go back a little way first, then come back up to your straight position. If you are comfortable with the movement you can repeat another 3 or 4 times gradually increasing the amount you arch back. NOTE: for some people this can aggravate your back pain, so it is very important to start with just a slight movement backwards, if there is any pain or discomfort, DO NOT CONTINUE.

 

7. Lastly: Do no H.A.R.M. Heat increases blood flow, which is good for chronic muscle spasm, but very bad for inflammation and swelling (see point 2). Alcohol also increases blood flow and will make inflammation worse. Running, or any kind of vigorous activity could further strain the injury. Massage can be very tempting, but again will increase blood flow and potentially do more damage to the injured tissue if applied in the first few days.

 

 

These simple techniques that you can do at home will start to ease your back pain quite quickly. Aside from helping you feel better, the steps outlined here are also critical to starting you on the way to a stronger and more flexible spine. As soon as you are able, it is time to start retraining you back to move well, and to move correctly using the specific exercises that you will learn in our Total Back Pain Solution course.

Remember that the pain is not the problem. The steps outlined here are purely for pain relief. If you want to fix your back pain you need to look into the Total Back Pain Solution that provides you with a step by step action plan to strengthen and stabilise your spine for good. Get started now!

 

If you have any questions, or would like to share your own experience, please leave us a comment below.

 

 

 

 

 

 

TBPS banner1

 

 

[tptn_list]