Spinal Stenosis

What exactly is spinal stenosis?

The spine serves as a protective structure, much like a hard electrical casing, for the spinal cord, nerves, and arteries. It features a hollow column that permits the spinal cord to connect the brain with the rest of the body. At each segment of the spine, nerves branch out to various body tissues, while a complex network of tiny veins and arteries nourishes the spinal cord and vertebrae with essential nutrients.

Spinal stenosis involves the narrowing of these critical spaces within the spine, often impairing the spinal cord, nerves, and blood vessels. While this condition primarily results from age-related degenerative changes in the spine, not everyone with spinal stenosis experiences pain. The term “spinal stenosis” specifically refers to the painful symptoms associated with this narrowing, rather than the narrowing itself.

Symptoms of Spinal Stenosis

The primary symptom of spinal stenosis is pain during walking or standing that extends to the hips, thighs, and sometimes the feet. This pain typically subsides with rest and bending forward. As a progressive condition, the symptoms of spinal stenosis worsen over time, presenting as a deep, radiating ache accompanied by fatigue, heaviness, weakness, and numbness. While it may affect only one leg, it commonly impacts both, with leg pain often overshadowing associated back pain.

Before a definitive diagnosis of spinal stenosis can be made, other conditions must be ruled out. A physiotherapist can conduct a comprehensive assessment to accurately diagnose the condition, sometimes supplemented by imaging. It’s important to note that many individuals may have stenotic changes in their spine without any symptoms. In severe cases, surgery might be necessary to alleviate nerve compression and stabilize the spine.

How Physiotherapy Can Assist

For those with mild to moderate spinal stenosis, physiotherapy offers substantial benefits. A physiotherapist can help manage pain with hands-on techniques and a customized exercise program derived from a biomechanical evaluation. They can also provide guidance on daily activities to help minimize flare-ups and maintain muscle strength. If surgery is deemed necessary, your physiotherapist will support you through the treatment process, ensuring optimal preparation and recovery for the best possible outcome.

Please remember, the content of this newsletter does not substitute for professional medical advice. Always consult a healthcare professional for guidance on your specific health issues.

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