Research indicates as many as 80 percent of Americans will experience some form of back pain in their lifetime. Fortunately most people recover from lower back pain without the need for surgery through the help of a chiropractic adjustment or two and minor lifestyle changes.
While muscle strain and stress may be the most common culprits, the causes of the pain are varied. For example, there are a number of medical conditions that result in back pain such as Spondylolisthesis, where one vertebrae slips forward over another. Sciatica happens when a herniated disc presses on the sciatic nerve causing shooting pains. These underlying causes require more complex treatments.
The same is true with spinal stenosis, which affects your vertebrae by narrowing the openings through which the spinal cord and nerves pass. This creates pressure on the spinal cord, called central stenosis, or nerves, called lateral stenosis. Spinal stenosis can manifest in the neck or the lower back. The most common causes of spinal stenosis are related to the spine aging.
The most common symptoms of the condition when it presents in the lower back can include numbness, tingling, weakness in the legs, and occasionally bowel or bladder malfunction. Symptoms can get worse when walking but improve when sitting down.
Treatments are designed to get the patients back up and able to participate in the daily activities. Common protocols include special exercises to reduce or eliminate pressure off the nerves to mitigate pain and to help improve joint mobility and the flexibility of the spinal muscles and extremities. Sometimes simply improving joint range of motion is the key to relieving pain.
Your practitioner may also recommend strengthening exercises such as weight training because developing stronger muscles provides support for spinal joints while strong arm and leg muscles help shoulder some of the workload usually assumed by your spinal joints. Aerobic exercise is good for increases endurance for walking and other activities that may have been impacted by the spinal stenosis condition. Research consistently shows that the more exercise you incorporate into your daily routine, the more quickly pain and other symptoms will ease.
It’s likely your practitioner may devise a multi-faceted treatment that will include manual therapies; a medical harness to reduce pressure on the spinal nerves while walking; posture information that shows changes in the way you stand or sit can add or minimize pressure on the nerves; icepacks; or electrical stimulation if the other strategies do not relieve the pain.
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