Simply put, spinal stenosis is the narrowing of the spinal canal. The narrowing of the spinal canal occurs as part of the ageing process in some cases. The shrinking spinal canal puts pressure on the nerves causing inflammation and pain. When accompanied by a degenerated disc, the condition can cause unbearable pain.
Spinal stenosis is almost never the reason for sciatica pain among patients under 50 years of age. But among older people, the ageing process causes a degradation of the vertebrae. Sharp pointed projections tend to appear on the spine, and it is these projections that pinch the sciatic nerve and cause pain.
Spinal stenosis can cause immense amount of discomfort. The specific signs to watch out are:
- Difficulty in walking.
- Inability to carry on work for a long period of time.
- Difficulty in moving of the lower part of the body.
- Continuous pain that shoots from the lower back to the toes.
Stenosis usually occurs in the cervical or the lumbar regions of the spinal canal. To confirm the diagnosis, an MRI, a CAT scan, or a myelogram (X-Ray of the spinal cord, spinal roots, and sub-arachnoid’s space) are likely to be prescribed by your physician. These procedures can confirm whether the sciatica pain is being caused by a narrowing of the spinal canal or not.
If unattended to, the sciatica pain caused by spinal stenosis can worsen over time. There is actually no conservative sciatic nerve treatment for spinal stenosis and physicians resort to pain medication. Whether the pain medication is mild or strong depends on the severity of the condition. Patients with weak abdominal muscles or multiple areas of degenerated spine are often advised to use a lumbar brace or corset to aid in better mobility.
If the pain is continuous, the last resort is surgery. A surgical removal of the overgrown joints eliminates the pressure that the spinal canal puts on the sciatica nerve. In severe cases, the surgeon may resort to fusing the vertebrae or removing the facet joints. Any type of surgery has an accompanying element of risk, especially for the elderly. The patient should take initiatives to understanding all aspects of spinal surgery so that he can be better prepared for the adaptations that may need to be made after surgery. This is also necessary since an educated decision should be made between surgery and drug therapy.
Sciatica alternative remedies can play an important role in pre-operative as well as post operative periods. Some pain can persist even after a successful operation, and therapies like acupressure, acupuncture, aromatherapy, assistive devises and bodywork are some sciatica alternative remedies that have seen varying degrees of success.