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Back Pain

written by Vidya Sury June 20, 2010

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With age, comes experience, wisdom, and a long list of health complications. When age takes its toll on our health, it is impossible to dispel most illnesses. As our bones weaken and the probability of accidents increase, back problems such as spinal stenosis turn into a reality for many.

Affecting primarily the lumbar and cervical areas of the spine, spinal stenosis occurs when the spinal canal (which is composed of nerves and the spinal cord itself), begins to compress. While the narrowing itself does not cause extreme pain, the pressed nerve endings inflict discomfort. For those who suffer from lumbar spinal stenosis, they tend to experience pain and/or numbness in their back and legs. With cervical spinal stenosis cases, the symptoms are generally more severe. This pain can occur in their arms, legs and even cause imbalance.

Spinal stenosis targets many older victims, as it is a medical condition that derives from weak bones or illnesses such as osteoarthritis. When we age, our bones begin to calcify and lose some of its cushion that protects the area. As a result, it becomes more difficult to move quickly and walk great distances. While some are born with it, women who are over 50 tend to be primary targets. If you are suffering from painful spinal stenosis, it is recommended that you look at all of your options. Surgery is usually not a popular method, especially with older patients. Nonetheless, there are many beneficial treatments which are non-invasive in nature that could reduce some of the pain.

Spinal decompression therapy is one of the pain-free treatments available. It requires the patient to lay on a table hooked up to a harness and receive pressure to their spine. This pressure actually creates a vacuum effect, tugging the discs apart, allowing them to gain flexibility and stretch out. By decompressing this area, vital nutrients and blood supply re-enter, which allows the spine to heal. As a result, the pain and muscle spasms are reduced, and it becomes easier to move again. In terms of recovery, those with spinal stenosis may only experience partial recovery which means pain is somehow alleviated, unlike those with herniated discs wherein full recovery is achievable. Nevertheless, this makes a lot of difference. Most patients have to receive 4-5 sessions per week for a minimum of twenty sessions.

In addition to spinal decompression therapy, those with spinal stenosis can also benefit from exercise. Your flexibility determines the treatment available to you — many would advise Pilates, Yoga or a physical therapy-centered treatment. Exercise routine that works up your back pain is vital to the healing process. If you are still struggling, you may also want to ask your physician about medications. Cortisone shots give temporary relief in muscle spasms. Regardless of what you choose, there are many methods to tackle spinal stenosis. If we could reduce just some of the pain in our lives, living into our 100 s would certainly be a walk in the park.

(Thank you, Back Pain and Physical Therapy)

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Vidya Sury

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