Bendy straws add an extra element of fun for kids when they sip their drinks. The accordion-like section allows you to pull the straw straight, putting spaces between the creases so that you can bend it. Your spine is similar in a way. There are spaces within it that allow for movement. Sometimes, however, these spaces can narrow and put pressure on the spinal cord and surrounding nerves, resulting in low back pain. This is a condition called spinal stenosis.
Putting on the Pressure
This condition compresses the nerves in your lower back (lumbar spine) which control muscle power and sensation in your legs. As a result, you not only experience low back pain, but also pain in your legs. This can make it difficult to walk and may even cause you to fall frequently. You may also notice symptoms of numbness, tingling, cramping, weakness, or temperature changes in your legs.
Narrowing Down Causes
There are several reasons why the space in your spine can be narrowed and reduced. Wear and tear over time as you age can be at fault. This may cause ligaments to thicken or bone overgrowths called spurs to develop that impede upon space in the spinal canal. Also, the cushioning disks between the vertebrae can become herniated with age, cracking and releasing their soft interior into the area. Arthritis can be yet another culprit, as can heredity. Injuries and tumors are possible causes as well. That is why it is important to seek medical attention in order to diagnose your condition accurately so that proper treatment can begin.
Imaging tests like X-rays and MRIs can help to confirm the diagnosis of spinal stenosis, pinpoint the underlying cause, and rule out other possible problems that have similar symptoms.
Shrinking the Symptoms
Many times, bending like that flexible straw can help to relieve pain. Leaning forward while walking or pulling your knees to your chest while lying down enlarges the space available to the nerves, thus reducing pressure—and the pain that goes with it. Anti-inflammatory medication, as well as muscle relaxants and rest, can alleviate symptoms as well. Take a break from your usual activities and try ones that get you off of your feet, like biking, instead.
When you are feeling better, a gradual return to activities is best. Hot or cold packs placed on the area can ease discomfort, too. In addition, physical therapy can play a big part in restoring strength and function. The experts at Castle Pines Physical Therapy can show you exercises that help with posture and balance, as well as stability, flexibility, and endurance.
Steroid injections are also a treatment option, and in some cases, if the condition is not helped by conservative measures and is interfering with your quality of life, surgery may be considered.
To learn more about spinal stenosis or to make an appointment with Dr. Jennifer Molner to ease your low back pain, call (303) 805-5156 today. We’ll bend over backwards to get you feeling great again!
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