Spinal stenosis occurs when the normal passageway of the spine narrows and restricts the nerves. Spinal stenosis can cause significant pain and leave you at high risk for nerve damage. There are two types of spinal stenosis. The first is the rarer of the two conditions, cervical stenosis. Your cervical spine consists of the bones located between your head and chest. These bones protect the spinal cord, and cervical stenosis can restrict your spinal cord causing paralysis in severe cases. Lumbar stenosis affects the lower part of your spinal column and though more common and less threatening than cervical stenosis, can drastically affect your health and daily life. Easing the pain of spinal stenosis is no easy feat, and traditional treatment plans work with pain medications to alleviate the symptoms of the condition. As more and more cases of spinal stenosis are diagnosed patients, and medical professionals are working diligently to find more effective treatment for the condition. The good news is, the answer seems to be already available and more powerful than any of the current attempts to help spinal stenosis sufferers.
Spinal stenosis can be caused by a few different factors that can affect virtually any adult in the population. The main cause of the condition is age. People over 50 are at higher risk for spinal stenosis because their bones and bodies have begun to see the effects of aging and begin to weaken and deteriorate. Deteriorating bone and dwindling collagen in the spine are common culprits of spinal stenosis, and because degeneration comes along with the natural progression of life, most medical professionals opt to design treatment plans around managing the condition and pain as opposed to working to eliminate it. Spinal injury is another common cause of spinal stenosis. Some spinal injury can jumpstart collagen loss and bone deterioration which narrows the spinal passageway. Bulging discs can also constrict the nerves housed in the spinal column causing spinal stenosis. Bulging discs can be the result of injury, aging or repetitive movements associated with work like bending, lifting, prolonged sitting and prolonged standing. With so many possible causes for this serious condition, everyone would benefit from being able to identify the signs of spinal stenosis and learn when to seek help.
Early symptoms of spinal stenosis are usually stiffness and pain in the back, upper or lower depending on the location of the restriction. Cervical stenosis is most often presented with numbness and pain in the neck, shoulders, arms, and legs. The symptoms of spinal stenosis appear minor in the early stages of the condition and progress slowly, but it is important to be aware of the signs so you can seek early treatment. As spinal stenosis progresses, you may experience heightened sensitivity in your reflexes and weakness in your extremities. Many people find it difficult to determine the position of their extremities with their eyes closed indicating a disruption in the signals that should be passing freely through the nerves in the spinal cord. Balancing becomes an issue as well, and people with spinal stenosis may begin to find it hard to stabilize themselves in sitting or standing positions. Nerves that control our bladder and bowels are located in the spinal cord so restriction from spinal stenosis can cause incontinence. The most severe symptom of spinal stenosis is temporary or permanent paralysis.
Symptoms of Spinal Stenosis:
Stiffness and pain in the back
Numbness and pain in the neck
Loss of Balance
Temporary or permanent paralysis
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Current treatment plans for spinal stenosis are quite similar across most medical practices. After diagnosis, your doctor will most likely prescribe pain medication to help you function and suggest an exercise plan that will strengthen your back with hopes of relieving pressure off of the spine. More severe cases are treated with epidural steroid injections which can relieve acute spinal pain for days or up to weeks after the treatment but follow up epidurals are usually required to maintain the relief. For patients losing feeling in their extremities, battling spinal stenosis paralysis or incontinence surgery is usually advised. During spinal decompression surgery, your doctor goes into your spinal column to remove parts of damaged facet joints to relieve nerve pressure. This surgery is highly invasive, and recovery from the procedure can take over two months. None of these approaches to spinal stenosis are designed to cure the problem but can extend quality of life with the condition and ease the pain to a more tolerable level.
Stem cell therapy is making incredible headway with treating spinal stenosis and offering patients a more comprehensive approach to treatment with the intent of healing. Stem cells have the power to differentiate into bone, ligament, cartilage and tendon cells to repair damage and reverse the effects of bone degeneration. Stem cell therapy treatments for spinal stenosis focus on rebuilding the cartilage cushions between your facet joints and returning the spine to its normal state relieving pressure off of the vital nerves in your spinal cord. Stem cell therapy works to repair degenerative bone loss in the spine for some patients after one treatment. Stem cell therapy is a minimally invasive alternative to surgery and pain medication protocols, but it’s important to seek early treatment for the condition. Spinal stenosis left unchecked can lead to the formation of bone spurs that make it more difficult to relieve spinal cord pressure by rebuilding cartilage and bone. By being aware of symptoms and changes in your body, you can catch spinal stenosis early in its progression and opt for stem cell therapy.
For more information about how stem cell therapy can help with painful back conditions, read this article from New Scientist: Chronic back pain stem cell treatment could cut need for opioids.
Many stem cell treatments available use stem cells derived from your own body, so there is no risk of rejection or reaction to foreign bodies. If you think you may have spinal stenosis or are presenting with any of the symptoms listed above talk to your doctor about the power of stem cell therapy and your options for healing your spinal stenosis.
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