You may have heard of term Spinal Stenosis, or maybe even diagnosed with the condition. However, did you really understand what it is and what can be done to help? Read on to find out more.
What is spinal stenosis?
spinal cord, nerves and arteries are housed by the spine, which acts as a hard
electrical casing to support and protect these vulnerable structures. The spine
has a hollow column that allows the spinal cord to run from the brain to the
rest of the body. At each spinal segment, nerves exit the spine and supply the
tissues of the body. There is also an intricate network of small veins and
arteries that provide blood to the spinal cord and vertebrae, providing them
with the nutrients needed to operate.
stenosis is characterized by a narrowing of the spaces that house the spinal
cord, nerves and blood supply. A variety of factors can cause spinal stenosis,
however overwhelmingly it is caused by degenerative changes to the spine as we
age. Many people over the age of 60 will have spinal stenosis; however, not all
will have pain. Clinically, spinal stenosis is used to describe the painful
symptoms of this condition rather than just the narrowing itself.
What are the symptoms?
Pain with walking or standing that radiates into the hips, thighs and
even feet is the hallmark of spinal stenosis. Usually, this pain will be
reduced with rest and forward movements of the spine. Spinal stenosis is a
progressive condition and symptoms will gradually increase over time. The pain
is often described as a deep radiating ache and can be associated with fatigue,
heaviness, weakness and numbness. It can affect just one leg, however more
often will be felt in both legs. There
will often be associated back pain; however, leg pain is usually the most
How can physiotherapy
There are many conditions that need to be excluded before a diagnosis
can be made. Your physiotherapist is able to conduct a thorough examination and
accurately diagnose this condition. In some cases, imaging may be requested. As
mentioned earlier, many people have stenotic spinal changes without symptoms.
Surgery to decompress the restricted nerves and stabilize the spine are used in
very severe cases.
mild to moderate cases of spinal stenosis, physiotherapy can be extremely
beneficial. Your physiotherapist can
help you manage your pain through hands-on techniques and by providing a
targeted exercise program based on biomechanical assessment. They are also able
to help you to understand and manage your day in a way that helps to reduce
flare-ups and maintain muscle strength.
surgery is the right choice for you, your physiotherapist is able to guide you
through this treatment pathway, helping you to prepare and recover from surgery
to get the best outcome possible.
None of the
information in this newsletter is a replacement for proper medical advice.
Always see a medical professional for advice on your condition.