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What is Spinal Stenosis?

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spinal stenosis

Many of you have heard the term spinal stenosis; but what does it mean? Stenosis is a medical term used to describe a condition where a normal-sized opening becomes narrow. Spinal stenosis may affect the cervical (neck), thoracic (chest), or lumbar (lower back) spines.

Think about a water pipe. Over time, rust and debris builds up on the walls of the pipe, thereby narrowing the passageway that normally allows water to flow. In the spine, the passageways are the spinal canal and the neuroforamen. The spinal canal is a hollow vertical hole that contains the spinal cord. The neuroforamen are the passageways that are created between the vertebrae through which spinal nerve roots exit the spinal canal.

While some people are born with a small spinal canal, most spinal stenosis occurs when something happens to reduce the amount of space available within the spine. Causes of spinal stenosis may include:

• Overgrowth of bone. Wear and tear damage from osteoarthritis on your spinal bones can prompt the formation of bone spurs, which can grow into the spinal canal. Paget’s disease, a bone disease that usually affects adults, also can cause bone overgrowth in the spine.
• Herniated disks. The soft cushions that act as shock absorbers between your vertebrae tend to dry out with age. Cracks in a disk’s exterior may allow some of the soft inner material to escape and press on the spinal cord or nerves.
• Thickened ligaments. The tough cords that help hold the bones of your spine together can become stiff and thickened over time. These thickened ligaments can bulge into the spinal canal.
• Spinal injuries. Car accidents and other major trauma can cause dislocations or fractures of one or more vertebrae. Displaced bone from a spinal fracture may damage the contents of the spinal canal.

Most people with spinal stenosis have passed the age of 50. When younger people develop spinal stenosis, the cause is typically a genetic disease affecting bone and muscle development throughout the body.

Chiropractic care is a safe and effective treatment option for those who are searching for an alternative and natural method. Techniques include chiropractic spinal adjustments, traction methods, spinal decompression therapy, and flexion-distraction provide relief to symptoms without the side effects of medications or the risks of epidurals or surgery.

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