A wide variety of things can cause back and neck pain, but back pain from spinal stenosis is quite common. This condition can cause pain, altered sensation, numbness, and weakness in the arms and legs. It can also cause problems such as incontinence and even paralysis.
Spinal stenosis is characterized by narrowing (stenosis) in the spinal column, which can result from acute and chronic issues in the spine. In people with spinal stenosis, the space around the spinal nerves is decreased, which can put pressure on the nerves. This pressure may be continuous or can occur upon certain movements of the spine.
The S-shaped curve of the spine means, for example, that leaning forward can open up space around spinal nerves in the lower back. Leaning backwards, however, can reduce these spaces. If the space around the nerves is already decreased, changes in posture can result in pressure on the nerves. The result of such compression can be acute pain, numbness, serious nerve damage and even paralysis.
What Causes Spinal Stenosis?
Spinal stenosis can result from:
- Disc herniation
- Osteophyte (bone spur) growth
- Ligament calcification
- Loss of disc height
- Spinal fracture
- Scar tissue in the spine
- Congenital issues
Treating Back Pain from Spinal Stenosis
Back pain from spinal stenosis is one of the most common reasons for spine surgery in adults over the age of 65. Spinal stenosis symptoms can often be managed successfully, however, using analgesics, anti-inflammatory medications and other therapies. Making lifestyle and dietary modifications can also help. These may include eating an anti-inflammatory diet, getting regular exercise, minimizing stress, and maintaining a healthy body weight.
Practicing yoga can also help back pain from spinal stenosis. It is essential, however, to practice yoga under the guidance of a qualified teacher as some yoga poses risk serious injury to anyone with spinal stenosis. Inappropriate exercise can lead to permanent nerve damage, pain, and even paralysis, incontinence, or other complications. Many yoga teachers are knowledgeable about spinal stenosis and other conditions that can cause back pain, so be sure to ask around before choosing a practitioner.
Preventing Back Pain from Spinal Stenosis
Yoga can be useful for preventing spinal stenosis and is recommended by the American College of Physicians and the American Pain Society. Pilates and other regular exercise can also help support overall health and well-being, and good posture, helping to minimize the risk of spinal degeneration. Supporting a strong, healthy spine throughout life can help prevent back pain from spinal stenosis.