28 December, 2018
Have you had any lower back pain, along with a few other symptoms like pain in the legs, buttocks, or sensation issues in the leg, etc.? If yes, it is best to consult a doctor immediately and not ignore the symptoms. You may be suffering from Spinal Stenosis. A report pegged the instances of Spinal Stenosis among senior Indian citizens at around 20%, around two years back, with the hint that it was on the rise.
Spinal Stenosis has been linked to obesity, and the rise in the number of senior citizens being diagnosed with this is due to the increase in obesity among seniors. This is not a mild disease and can cripple your lifestyle in many ways, because of the pain and movement issues. Hence, it is essential to watch out for any progressive symptoms of this kind and take necessary medical help.
What is Spinal Stenosis?
As we age, we may have bone issues like osteoarthritis, which is one of the factors leading to this disease. Also, the ligaments connecting the spine and the bones may thicken, which is another factor resulting in this condition. Another issue could be that the cushioning between the disks in the vertebrae has deteriorated. All these factors cause the spinal canal to narrow down. Hence, the nerves that travel down to the legs may become pinched at the bottom of the spine; this is what causes the pain and the inability to walk properly, weakness in the legs, a sensation of numbness in the affected leg or even the buttocks, etc.
Few people even experience balance issues and may even have fallen. This mostly happens in the lower spine, called as the lumbar spine. The symptoms may usually be mixed up with other issues, and hence it is slightly tricky to diagnose. People who have no other medical history of back pain also may end up having this. In a few rare cases, people with bone tumors, or even some spinal defects at birth can develop this.
When faced with any of the symptoms mentioned above, it is best to visit a spine specialist. Post some physical examination, the doctor depending on the severity of the symptoms may order a few other tests like X-ray, or even an MRI or CT scan of the spine. If required an electromyogram may also be done to check your spinal nerve health or even a bone scan to check the bone health. Based on all reports, the doctor will decide your line of treatment.
In most cases, physiotherapy is recommended to strengthen the muscles and progressively relieve the pain. A physiotherapist may suggest multiple exercises and at times, you may even be asked to undergo some shortwave treatments as part of the physio regime as well. Massage, heat packs or ice packs can also help reduce the pain in the back, in case it is needed. But these should also be done, only in consultation with the doctor.
At times, the doctor may suggest cortisone injections into the spinal column, or prescribe some Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) to relieve the pain. Most instances will recover with a combination of these therapies. Regular physiotherapy will improve one’s flexibility as well as balance in such cases. However, in some instances, it is possible that surgery may be suggested to help recover from the situation.
While it is a painful condition and should be attended to so that it does not interfere with your everyday life, it is not a dangerous one as such. So, with treatment, people can continue to lead a healthy, happy life, without any other complications.
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