Spinal Stenosis Explained
Spinal stenosis is basically nerve compression. In the spine, the nerve roots are attached to the spinal cord. They exit the spinal canal through bony openings called foramina. Then those nerve roots run out to the areas they serve, such as the arms or the legs.
In the cervical spine, the seven vertebrae that make up the neck, the nerve roots serve the arms and hands. In the lumbar spine, the five vertebrae that make up the lower back, the nerve roots run down into the buttocks and legs.
When the space narrows in a foramen it can have three main causes:
- Degenerative disc disease — As we age, our spinal discs become more and more dry, and they start to flatten. The intervertebral foramina also start to narrow. If a disc begins to bulge or herniate it can put pressure on the nerve root.
- Spinal osteoarthritis — The facet joints at the back of the vertebra allow the spine to tilt. Osteoarthritis often leads to the breakdown of cartilage covering these joints. As a result, bone spurs are created when the bones rub against each other. These bony growths can press on nerve roots in the foramina.
- Ligament changes — Ligaments in the spinal canal can thicken and even turn into bony tissue. When this occurs, they can then push into the spinal cord or against the exiting nerve roots.
At Cynergy, our physical therapists have the goal of decreasing or hopefully fully alleviating patients’ chronic back, leg, and buttock pain caused by lumbar stenosis. We do this through manual therapy, stretching, core stabilization training, and education about the patient’s posture. The goal is reducing pain and educating the patient on movements or positions they are using that are worsening the pain.
We have five locations across the city; there’s a location near you where we can help with your back pain caused by stenosis. Make an appointment at Midtown West, (212) 974-7252; Chelsea, (212) 255-8080; Midtown East, (212) 980-2963; ADPT by Cynergy, (212) 292-7145; or Cobble Hill, (718) 795-2744.