Spinal Stenosis

What is Spinal Stenosis?

Degenerative spinal stenosis or spinal stenosis, defined as the narrowing of the spinal canal, nerve root canal or intervertebral foramen of the spine, and subsequent compression of the neural and vascular structures, is predominantly a disorder of the elderly and is the most common diagnosis associated with spine surgery in patients older than 60 years. 

Spinal Stenosis with JOI logo.Spinal Stenosis

Spinal stenosis as simply put, is narrowing of the spaces in the spine where there is potential for a nerve tissue or vascular structure to be compressed or compromised.  

There are two classification of spinal stenosis, namely:

  1. Central stenosis, which is characterized by a narrowing of the spinal canal around the thecal sac, or the sheath that covers your spinal cord. The most common cause for this type of spinal stenosis include:
  • Facet joint arthritis and hypertrophy
  • Thickening and bulging of the lumbar facet
  • Bulging of the intervertebral disc
  • Spondylolisthesis or slipping of one vertebra over the other
  1. Lateral stenosis, which is characterized by the compression of the spinal nerve in the lateral recess of the spinal canal or in the intervertebral foramen. This is the area on the side of your spinal column where a nerve leaves the spinal cord. The most common causes for this type of stenosis include:

To learn more about the spine, please watch this VIDEO.

Spinal StenosisAnatomy of the Spine
Symptoms of Spinal Stenosis

  • Long history of low back pain
  • Leg pain in one or both legs.  Pain can shoot down the thigh or lower leg producing a sciatica-like symptom.
  • Increase in symptoms with prolonged walking, prolonged standing and to a lesser degree, side bending.  Increased pain in walking downhill is more consistent with spinal stenosis because it puts the spine into extension, thereby narrowing the spaces even more 
  • Leg weakness. This may cause one or both feet to “slap” or “drop” during walking.
  • Numbness and tingling on either or both legs
  • Changes in deep tendon reflexes
  • Loss of bladder or bowel control.  If you experience either of these symptoms, you should call your doctor right away, as this is a medical emergency that warrants immediate attention.
  • Stiffness of low back and/or leg muscles
  • Limited spinal range of motion

If you are having one or more symptoms of spinal stenosis and has impacted your ability to carry out your day-to-day function, it is recommended that you see your doctor or health care provider to be able to determine the best available treatment that is appropriate for you.  

How is Spinal Stenosis Treated?

At JOI, we offer the following services to treat and manage spinal stenosis, which may include the following exercises:

  • These include stabilization exercises that strengthen the core and back extensor muscles, flexibility exercises to stretch tight muscles and as well as aerobic conditioning

Click to Learn Exercises for Lumbar Stenosis.

  • Strategies to improve posture and body mechanics
  • Manual therapy techniques, such as mobilizations/manipulations to improve spine mobility and improve range of motion
  • Modalities such as laser therapy
  • Medical massage to improve soft tissue and myofascial restrictions

To schedule with JOI Rehab for Physical Therapy, please call 904-858-7045

The Jacksonville Orthopaedic Institute can help if you think you have spinal stenosis.  Please give us a call at 904-JOI-2000, schedule online or click below to see a JOI Back and Neck Orthopaedic Specialist.  JOI and JOI Rehab continue to provide Telehealth Services.

By Allan Fiesta, DPT, OCS

Back and Neck Specialists

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