A common source of back or neck pain is spinal stenosis, narrowing of the spinal canal. The spinal cord runs through the vertebral column with nerves exiting it at various intervals. The bony passages formed by the vertebral bones protect the spinal cord and nerves but can sometimes become narrow causing nerve compression. This can lead to pain as well as other symptoms.
Spinal stenosis commonly occurs due to age-related changes such as osteoarthritis (deterioration of the cartilage between the bones in a joint), formation of bone spurs or flattening of the supportive disks between the vertebrae.
Pain may radiate to the arms or legs depending on which part of the spine is affected. You may also experience tingling, numbness or weakness in the extremities and rarely bowel and bladder difficulties. Walking usually aggravates symptoms and sitting down may provide some relief.
The American Spine Center offers advanced care for spinal stenosis which is mostly alleviated by nonsurgical treatment. Your doctor will review your symptoms and history and conduct a physical examination. Muscle strength, sensation, posture and mobility are examined. X-rays or other imaging studies may be performed to verify the diagnosis. Based on your examination and personal goals, a unique treatment plan is designed.
Treatment may include specific exercises to relieve pressure on the nerves; exercises to improve flexibility, mobility, strength and endurance; manual therapy such as massage, mobilization or manipulation; the use of harness-type devices to relieve nerve compression, pain control methods such as icing or electrical stimulation, posture training and advice on activity modification. In case of severe or persistent symptoms, surgery may be necessary. These treatments, however, resolve most cases of spinal stenosis and helps one safely return to their regular activities.