Spinal Stenosis Walking Issues: Stenosis means a narrowing. Spinal stenosis can happen in any spine region, but the neck and lower back are the most common locations. The spinal canal becomes narrower and can cause the nerves to become compressed, pinched, and irritated and can extend from the lumbar spine through the hips, buttocks, legs, and feet. Individuals with lumbar spinal stenosis may have difficulty walking caused by sensations of discomfort like numbness, electrical shocks, and pain, requiring the need to lean forward to relieve pressure and symptoms. Additionally, symptoms are likely to worsen the longer the walk. Chiropractic treatment can treat spinal stenosis because it corrects and re-aligns the spine, thus reducing pressure on the spinal cord, joints, and nerve roots.
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The spine is made up of interlocking vertebrae. The regions are cervical, thoracic, lumbar, and sacral bones with a foramen opening. These openings form the protective tunnel/spinal canal surrounding the spinal cord. The spinal cord is a group of nerves that run through the tunnel. The narrowing suffocates the nerves supplying the lower extremities that can influence walking activity.
There may be no symptoms with early lumbar spinal stenosis. Most individuals develop symptoms gradually and may begin to notice them while walking or standing. These can include:
Individuals begin to lean forward when symptoms start, bringing relief by reducing the pressure on the nerves. However, constantly leaning forward leads to other posture and health problems.
A doctor or chiropractor will ask questions about symptoms and medical history and perform a complete physical examination to diagnose lumbar spinal stenosis. During the physical examination, a healthcare provider will look for signs, such as loss of sensation, weakness, and abnormal reflexes.
Chiropractic care combined with physical therapy is a tried-and-true treatment for spinal stenosis. A chiropractic treatment plan can include targeted and passive exercise programs. Targeted exercises involve strengthening the core and back muscles. Passive treatments include hot and cold therapy, massage, decompression, and electrical stimulation. The objective of chiropractic therapy is to:
Conway, Justin, et al. “Walking assessment in people with lumbar spinal stenosis: capacity, performance, and self-report measures.” The spine journal: official North American Spine Society journal vol. 11,9 (2011): 816-23. doi:10.1016/j.spinee.2010.10.019
Lurie, Jon, and Christy Tomkins-Lane. “Management of lumbar spinal stenosis.” BMJ (Clinical research ed.) vol. 352 h6234. 4 Jan. 2016, doi:10.1136/bmj.h6234
Macedo, Luciana Gazzi, et al. “Physical therapy interventions for degenerative lumbar spinal stenosis: a systematic review.” Physical therapy vol. 93,12 (2013): 1646-60. doi:10.2522/ptj.20120379
Tomkins-Lane, Christy C et al. “Predictors of walking performance and walking capacity in people with lumbar spinal stenosis, low back pain, and asymptomatic controls.” Archives of physical medicine and rehabilitation vol. 93,4 (2012): 647-53. doi:10.1016/j.apmr.2011.09.023
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