Stenosis of the spine

After puppy obedience classes today, I walked out with Booka’s owner, an older man with generous smile.  He talked about how he was struggling with Spinal Stenosis and had numbness and tingling in his arms and legs.  He went on to explain how much pain he was in.  I instantly wanted to recommend Yoga to him as it has been a lifesaver for me, but with Stenosis, Yoga can be harmful.

Stenosis comes from the Greek word “to choke,” which is sort of what is happening.  The spinal column is comprised of 24 individual vertebrae in the lumbar, cervical and thoracic regions of the body.  The cervical vertebrae (C1 –C7)  support the head and allow it to  move,  flex and have posterior/anterior flexion and extension. With the lower spine, structurally, the cervical vertebrae form a  tunnel, or vertebral canal. This canal protects the spinal cord and the  nerves that exit through the vertebral foramina. Sandwiched between each vertebra is an intervertebral disc that cushions the bones. The discs also help  make movement and flexibility possible. When the normal anatomy  of the vertebrae is somehow  compromised, severe  pain and other  problems can arise.

With stenosis,  the vertebrae in the neck may start to narrow in  on the spinal cord, this can impede movement and affect normal day-to-day functions.

We are a society that works way too hard and too much. We don’t exercise enough and don’t eat the right foods.  Back problems are increasing.

The conventional way to treat stenosis is with rest, neck bracing (only temporary) and mild exercise to strengthen support muscles for the spine.  Medications include anti-inflammatory drugs, muscle relaxants and sometimes narcotics. Unless a person is experiences a neurological deficit due to the stenosis, some natura healers  say that surgery is seldom required and that there are noninvasive treatments.

 Alternative Options are listed below. They show promise of being useful in treating the symptoms of stenosis.

1. Acupuncture –  Chinese medicine theory, acupressure and acupuncture are showing to be very helpful in reducing pain. The Bladder and Kidney meridians are connected to the very deepest part of our bodies: the nerves and bones.

2. Chiropractic – The severity of stenosis will determine if this is an option. A  Chiropractor often uses ultrasound stimulation, exercise and nutrition when he or she treats this painful condition.

3. Cranial-Sacral Therapy – This is my favorite! This therapy is a very gentle kind of bodywork and can be very effective in easing the pressure on the spine.  It involves a  light touching that works to  balance the cranial-sacral system and is often effective  in alleviating the  pain.

4. Swedish Massage – Traditional Swedish massage is often  very effective in the reduction of pain brought on by spinal stenosis. Depending on the severity of the stenosis, massage can range anywhere from light  to deep cross friction techniques.  it is important to avoid the joints that may be “angry” which is a term used for inflammation.  Surrounding  muscles often  splint against any painful movement and interference with this splinting can worsen the pain.

It is very important to accurately diagnose your condition accurately before proceeding with treatment. The spinal cord is very fragile. For massage therapists and other bodyworkers, being educated in the basics  of stenosis and all of  its related complications such as spondylosis is vital  in both being able to manage  the pain as well as negating the possibility of causing  any  further possible problems.


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