Can Spinal Stenosis Be Prevented?

Degenerative changes such as those seen in people with osteoarthritis of the spine can cause narrowing of the space that houses the spinal cord and spinal nerves. Without enough space, the surrounding bones compress the nerves, resulting in spinal stenosis.

Some people with spinal stenosis have no symptoms, while others tend to experience pain, numbness, and tingling. Without treatment, symptoms may worsen with time. It’s wise for anyone with diagnosed or suspected spinal stenosis to see a specialist for further evaluation and treatment.

At the Spine Institute of Southeast Texas, board-certified orthopedic surgeon Thomas Jones II, MD, and our clinical team want to help improve your pain and keep your spine as healthy as possible. 

Spinal stenosis can have a major impact on how you feel and function in your daily life. The proper diagnosis and the right treatment plan can relieve the pressure on your spinal cord or nerve roots and ease your symptoms.

What is spinal stenosis?

The spinal canal is composed of a vertical row of vertebrae with a bundle of nerve roots at the base that branch out through the gaps of the vertebrae.

Narrowing of the spaces where the spinal cord and nerve roots pass is the hallmark of spinal stenosis. The narrowing compresses the spinal cord or nerve roots and causes pain and numbness, usually in the legs and feet.

Why did I develop spinal stenosis?

Inflammatory disorders, infections, bone overgrowth, and injuries can cause spinal stenosis. Most often it is caused by age-related wear and tear.

The risk factors for developing spinal stenosis are being over age 50 and having:

Overall, age is the biggest risk factor for spinal stenosis.

Can you prevent spinal stenosis?

Most people develop some degree of wear and tear as they age, and we see degenerative spinal changes in many people after they reach age 50. It’s important to keep in mind that most people don’t experience symptoms.

There is no surefire way to prevent spinal stenosis, but you can take steps in your daily life to promote spine health. Adopting habits that promote spine health may lower the risk of spinal stenosis. 

Here are 3 steps you can take to promote spine health and work on preventing spinal stenosis: 

1. Get moving

Exercise is not only good for your overall health, it’s good for your spine. If the idea of going to a gym makes you cringe, find something that you enjoy that involves physical activity. An exercise plan tailored to you and your health needs is best.

The goal is to safely build and maintain strength, flexibility, and endurance. Your spine is supported by your core abdominal muscles, so it’s beneficial to your back to have a strong core. If you notice any pain during exercise, stop, and tell your doctor.

2. Stretch to increase flexibility

Pain and stiffness are common symptoms of spinal stenosis, and this can reduce your range of motion, further contributing to stiffness. Once you’re in this vicious cycle you may find the stiffness getting worse over time.

Flexibility training with stretching is an excellent strategy for relieving stiffness. Yoga and other stretching-based exercises can ease the pain associated with spinal stenosis. In turn, improving your flexibility helps to increase your mobility.

3. Manage your weight

Carrying excess weight is hard on your joints and body systems, and it boosts the risk for spinal stenosis along with other health issues. Because being overweight increases the wear and tear on your body, attaining and maintaining a healthy weight can go a long way toward keeping your spine healthy. 

Surgical treatment to relieve pressure on the spinal canal is often the most effective way to treat spinal stenosis. Mild cases may respond to conservative treatments. 

Relief is within reach with proper treatment of spinal stenosis. To serve you, we have offices in Pearland, Houston, and Lake Jackson, Texas. To learn more and to schedule a consultation, contact the nearest office, or book your appointment here on the website.

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