Chiropractic care for spinal stenosis
Lower back pain is a considerable problem in the US. It is estimated that almost one-fifth of adults may experience some kind of back pain during the year. But, regretfully, studies show that the problem is chronic in about 13.1% of adults aged 20-69 years.
The truth is that most adults would experience some back pain during their lifetime. Back pain may not be life-threatening, but it is debilitating.
Those who had an episode of back pain know that it is pretty challenging to manage, too. Pain killers may provide some relief but often fail to provide adequate relief. Thus, it is good to consider non-pharmacological means for back pain like chiropractic care.
Understanding spinal stenosis
Spinal stenosis is the leading cause of chronic lower back pain. It may cause consistent pain in some, while episodes of lower back pain in others. Additionally, studies show that many people live with asymptomatic spinal stenosis. These are individuals at the risk of developing back pain.
The spinal cord is a thick bundle of nerves. These nerves move through the well-protected pathway or canal and innervate all the body organs. Stenosis means narrowing of this canal at a point or another.
When this narrowing (stenosis) occurs, it causes undue pressure on these bundles of nerves. Symptoms of the conditions would depend on the location of stenosis. However, it mainly causes lower back pain along with some other symptoms.
There is a reason why it primarily affects the lower back or lumbar region. It is because this region of the back is relatively quiet mobile. Thus, the lower back is prone to wear and tear diseases like osteoarthritis.
Although osteoarthritis remains the leading cause of spinal stenosis, it may occur due to other causes. Like it may be caused by rheumatoid arthritis or even spinal injury. In addition, the wrong posture may ultimately lead to the disease in some individuals.
Causes like wrong sitting posture, spending a significant amount of time in front of the screen, are some of the considerable yet less discussed causes of spinal stenosis.
Spinal stenosis is about some considerable changes in the spinal canal (stenosis), along with a weakening of back muscles.
Some of the signs and symptoms of spinal stenosis are:
• Chronic back pain. It is a kind of pain in which pain killers may help but not adequately
• Increased pressure on a sciatic nerve leads to sciatica and thus pain in the buttocks and the legs
• Changes in the sensation in feet, and even weakness
Additionally, it may cause other signs, if the stenosis is more severe, like:
• Loss of sexual function
• Reduced bladder control
• Severe pain and numbness in legs
• Severe pain in legs making walking very difficult
How would doctors treat the conditions?
It is no secret that doctors find it quite hard to manage the condition. It is because drug therapy primarily focuses on pain relief. Although painkillers may help reduce the pain sensation, they do very little to relieve spinal stenosis.
Thus, doctors rely on spontaneous remission of the conditions in most cases. But, regretfully, it may not occur in many cases. In such cases, doctors recommend physiotherapy, spinal manipulations, and other alternative treatments.
Additionally, doctors may also recommend surgical intervention. However, the spine is a very sensitive area, and surgery may cause severe complications.
Therefore, no doubt that spinal manipulation remains one of the most dependable ways of causing remission. Moreover, it may help prevent future episodes of back pain.
Role of chiropractic care in spinal stenosis
A chiropractor is a person who specializes in managing neuromuscular conditions without the use of medications or invasive methods. Chiropractors are especially good at spinal manipulation.
Chiropractors would use modern diagnostic methods and traditional ways of looking at the condition. They look deeper into the cause of spinal stenosis. It is because their aim is not just to provide prompt relief but also to prevent future episodes of such issues. Chiropractors can help prevent the progress of the condition.
So, a chiropractor would start with an examination, diagnosis, and spinal adjustments. However, they often go beyond adjustments by providing essential advice for spinal care. They might also suggest people various non-pharmacological ways of managing spinal pain at home.
Further, chiropractors have a specific role in improving spinal health and preventing future spinal stenosis-associated pain episodes. Thus, a chiropractor may recommend certain stretching and other exercises and the use of cold and heat therapy.
Sometimes, in more severe cases, prolonged massage therapy may be needed to promote local healing processes and reduce inflammation.
One of the questions people may ask is whether chiropractic treatment for spinal stenosis works?
In short, the answer is yes. There is sound evidence in favor of the use of such procedures. Moreover, even many practitioners of modern medicine favor its use in such conditions.
It means that clinical evidence favoring chiropractic manipulation for managing spinal stenosis is also rising. Thus, in one of the systemic reviews (pooled data from multiple clinical trials), the author found evidence of the potentially beneficial effect of spinal manipulation.
Like any treatment, chiropractic manipulations have their limitations. Nevertheless, they help in most cases. How much benefit one can expect will depend on the severity of the condition and its chronicity.
Long-established spinal stenosis is challenging to manage. It is because significant changes in the spinal bones have already occurred.
Thus, it is good to seek chiropractic care at the earliest. Additionally, it is worth understanding that chiropractic care may be suitable for preventing future episodes of lower back pain. Thus, even those living with remission of the condition may consider chiropractic care.
To conclude, spinal stenosis is the leading cause of chronic and difficult to treat lower back pain. Medications may help relieve pain but have a limited role in changing the course of the condition. On the contrary, chiropractic care may help manage the root cause of the condition and help provide prolonged relief.