By: Dr. Nicholas LaHood, D.C.
Spinal Stenosis is a common diagnosis that affects many adults 50 years and older. This occurs when the spinal canal or the nerve foramina becomes narrowed. The narrowing of the spinal canal or foramina will constrict and compress the spinal cord and spinal nerve root. This can lead to a number of problems depending on which nerves are getting compressed. In general, spinal stenosis can cause cramping, pain or numbness in the legs, back, neck, shoulders and/or arms; a loss of sensation in the extremities; and sometimes, in rare cases, problems with bladder or bowel function. In general, spinal canal and formainal narrowing is caused by osteoarthritis, or "wear and tear" arthritis, of the spinal column. This results in a "pinching" of the spinal cord and/or nerve roots.
People suffering from spinal stenosis may have trouble walking any significant distance, and usually must sit or lean forward over a grocery cart, countertop or assistive device such as a walker.
Typically, a person with spinal stenosis complains about developing tremendous pain in the legs or calves and lower back after walking. Pain occurs more quickly when walking up hills. This is usually very reproducible and is almost immediately relieved by sitting down or leaning over. When the spine is flexed forward, more space is available for the spinal cord, causing a reduction in symptoms.
What Causes It?
Spinal stenosis is usually caused by progressive degenerative changes in the spine. This is usually called "acquired spinal stenosis" and can occur from the narrowing of space around the spinal cord due to bony overgrowth (bone spurs) from osteoarthritis, combined with thickening or calcification of one or more ligaments in the back. Stenosis can also be caused by a bulge or herniation of the intervertebral discs. This must be differentiated from the stenosis caused by the bony overgrowth that can occur on the vertebral bodies, or facet joints. The DRS Protocol may not be appropriate in moderate to severe cases of spinal stenosis with many spurs and thickened ligaments. On the other hand, if the stenosis of the central canal is primarily from bulging discs, or herniated discs, then the DRS Protocol™ may be very successful.
Sometimes people are born with a smaller spinal canal. This is called "congenital spinal stenosis" and may become problematic at an earlier age. If you are thinking about spinal surgery and would like a second opinion contact Dr. LaHood. If you have already had spinal surgery and your symptoms returned contact Dr. Nicholas LaHood for a consultation of your condition. Contact Dr. Nicholas LaHood, D.C. to set up an evaluation of your spine and review of your MRI. All of Dr. LaHood's protocols are non-invasive.