<p><strong>What Is Spinal Stenosis?</strong></p>
<p>Spinal stenosis is a narrowing of the spinal canal, the cavity within the vertebral column through which the spinal cord and nerves pass. Nerves leaving the spinal cord are called nerve roots; they pass through the vertebral column via small canals. Arthritic changes that cause overgrowth of vertebral bones may compress the spinal cord or the nerve roots, impairing sensation and muscle strength in the affected portion of the body. Most common among people in their 50s and 60s, spinal stenosis affects the lumbar (lower back) portion of the spine more than the cervical (neck) region. Symptoms include pain, numbness, and weakness in the neck, arms, lower back, and legs. As a result of leg weakness, people are prone to falls. Because the nerves controlling the bladder emerge from the lower spine, spinal stenosis may also cause urinary incontinence.</p>
High blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease, and other risk factors should be treated.
If you smoke, you should stop.
Treatment of TIA (transient ischemic attack, "warning strokes") may prevent future strokes.
Aspirin therapy (81mg a day or 100mg every other day) is now recommended for stroke prevention in women under 65 as long as the benefits outweigh the risks. It should be considered for women over age 65 only if their blood pressure is controlled and the benefit is greater than the risk of gastrointestinal bleeding and brain hemorrhage .
Mosca L, Banka CL, Benjamin EJ, et al. Evidence-Based Guidelines for Cardiovascular Disease Prevention in Women: 2007 Update. Circulation. 2007; Published online before print February 19, 2007.
Even back pain caused by a spondylolisthesis and lumbar stenosis can be treated with physical therapy. Because spondylolisthesis and lumbar stenosis can cause nerve damage, surgery is the natural knee-jerk treatment option that people think about. Of course, surgical spinal fusion is the best option to stabilize the spine if the nerves are severely damaged and in jeopardy of further damage. But, what about a low grade spondylolisthesis and mild stenosis? Can surgery be avoided? Absolutely, the body is able to compensate for the misalignment of the passive, spinal structures with optimal functioning of the active, stabilizing muscles. That's right; bones, ligaments, and cartilage are passive structures that sometimes fail; thus, the muscles and nerves which actively control the muscles can compensate for the problem. The spine has two systems, the passive and the active system, which can balance each other out. This redundancy allows for one system to compensate for problems in the oth...
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