Lumbar Spinal Stenosis
Anyone who suffers from lumbar spinal stenosis understands the difficulty of dealing with severe back pain that is caused by a compression of the vertebrae of the spine. Patients with this disease will experience a narrowing of the spinal column that can result in extreme pain. The causes for this malady can vary. In some cases, the natural process of aging can precipitate this condition. For other patients, degenerative arthritis may be the cause. But, whatever the cause, the condition can be extremely painful and can severely limit mobility for sufferers.
The spine consists of many separate joints. When the cartilage that is between the bones in each of these joints begins to wear away, a number of problems can result. Osteophytes, or bone spurs can form as can overgrowth of ligaments. As the space that is available for nerves becomes scarce, pressure on these delicate nerves can occur. This condition is called lumbar spinal stenosis. Besides normal aging or degenerative arthritis, there are a few other factors that can cause stenosis in the lumbar, or lower region of the spine. An infection or tumor can precede the condition. There are also a number of metabolic bone diseases that can have a negative impact as well. Younger individuals with curvature of the spine may exhibit signs of this condition. Injuries to the spine can also precipitate the condition.
Sitting is usually far less painful than standing for those who suffer from lumbar spinal stenosis. When standing, the nerves within the spine must endure more compression and significant pain can result. The symptoms of this condition can include pain in the lower back, numbness, weakness, or a general loss of sensation in the legs. Walking can cause shooting pains to travel down the leg. Rest can help to alleviate symptoms, but if degenerative arthritis is involved, the condition will usually begin to worsen. Without treatment, serious complications may occur. In extreme cases, a loss of the ability to utilize the legs or a loss of bladder or bowel control are among the unfortunate complications of lumbar spinal stenosis. There are a number of other diseases that can also have symptoms similar to stenosis of the lower back including vascular claudication, diabetic neuropathy or peripheral vascular disease. As individuals age, there are natural occurrences in the spine that can change spinal canal's size and shape. Connective ligaments will tend to thicken. Bone spurs can push painfully on the nerves of the spinal cord. Discs can become pushed into the canal of the spine. All of these factors can add to the narrowing of the spinal column.
Diagnosis of lumbar spinal stenosis may be accomplished through imaging technologies such as the x-ray, the CT scan or the MRI. If the condition is not too far advanced, pain medications used in conjunction with physical therapy and appropriate exercise. In some cases, corticosteroids can be administered to the afflicted area through a shot in the spine. Corticosteroids can reduce inflammation and thereby cut back on pain. But there is a drawback to this type of steroid treatment. Shots should not be given too often as there can be serious side effects. Surgery may also be a viable answer. Such operations will remove any tissue and bone that may be pressing on the nerves of the spine. The spine will, in some cases, need to be stabilized and this may be done through a procedure called spinal fusion. While surgeries of this nature can be helpful in relieving symptoms, if the condition is a longstanding one, there may be permanent damage present. When this is the case, surgery, no matter how successful, will not usually alleviate all of the patient's pain. Taking care of the back is an important part of keeping up with overall health. If the back is not functioning properly, every aspect of a patient's life will be negatively impacted. However, if degenerative arthritis is a factor, the best preventative measures will not be able to completely ward off lumbar spinal stenosis. Surgery can help to correct such serious issues as a loss of bowel or bladder control and weakness in the legs.
Assuming that degenerative arthritis in not a factor, there are a number of steps that an individual can take to help to prevent the onset of lumbar spinal stenosis. Since the natural process of aging can be a contributing factor, there is no way to completely keep this condition from occurring. But there are some useful steps that can be helpful in holding off this painful disease. Regular exercise will support flexibility and ensure that the individual maintains a healthy body weight. Eliminating extra pounds and remembering good posture can help to promote spinal health as well. Smoking can have a negative impact on bone density and can help to increase the chances of the onset of lumbar spinal stenosis. Injuries in the home can cause damage to the spine as well. Taking steps to limit the likelihood of such accidents is wise. Any obstacles that could result in falls such as clutter, loose rugs, slippery floors, or random electrical cords should be dealt with. An overindulgence in alcohol or the careless use of sedatives could also result in accidental injury. Wearing low heals and comfortable shoes can also limit the possibility of taking a tumble. The Bible instructs believers to treat one another with compassion and courtesy. "Finally, be ye all of one mind, having compassion one of another, love as brethren, be pitiful, be courteous." (1 Peter 3:8)
Arthritis Of The SpineArthritis of the spine and arthritis of the neck can be very painful and debilitating problems that often affect individuals who are 40 or older. Both diseases have similar symptoms, including pain and numbness in the back, neck, head, and shoulders. The causes of these diseases may vary from one person to the next, but usually degeneration in the bones along with calcium build up may be significant causes of this problem. There are many forms of treatment that are commonly used for individuals suffering from these painful diseases. One of the most common treatments is restricted movement for the neck and back with a cervical collar, much like those used for individuals suffering from whiplash. Surgery is another treatment option that may be necessary if pain or complications continue after the use of the cervical collar has not shown any improvement.
The symptoms may be different for different people and the ups and downs of these symptoms will also vary. The back, neck, head and shoulders may ache from time to time and then be all right other times. Sometimes, bending and other common movements may cause pressure and pain to occur with arthritis of the spine. Often, the area that is affected will become numb for no reason. Numbness is very common, especially in arthritis of the neck. Other areas, including the arms and legs may also experience some numbness at times. In some cases, problems or changes with urination may arise. Frequent urination or the urgent need to urinate may affect the individual suffering from these diseases.
Sometimes past injuries are the culprit. An individual who has fallen or put extreme strain on the back or neck may be vulnerable to these forms of arthritis. The pain and strain from a fall or other injury can cause severe problems to occur, especially if medical help or advice is not sought in a timely manner. Degeneration of the spine can be to blame in some cases of arthritis of the spine. This has sometimes been attributed to genetic reasons and often blamed on the lack of calcium, much like with osteoporosis. The build-up of calcium in the bones can also be the cause. When these issues occur, nerves may become pinched or compacted, causing severe pain or numbness in the affected areas. Many individuals that suffer from arthritis of the neck will also be affected by herniated discs.
There are many treatment options that can be sought. One of the first methods of treatment will be medication to relieve the pain. This will only be helpful and will not alleviate the problem for arthritis of the neck. The most common treatment used in treating individuals is the use of a cervical collar. This type of collar will help to hold the neck straight and help to relieve some back pain. Sometimes, a stronger collar or brace can be used. This allows little room for movement, but can often be successful in the relief of the symptoms of pain and numbness in the affected areas. If a collar is not helpful, there is only one more option for most individuals. This option includes surgery for arthritis of the spine, which is often used in cases of severe pain. Also, if there are compressed nerves in the spine, surgery will be used to decompress the nerves in an attempt to relieve the pain and pressure. In severe cases where the individual has difficulty in several areas, including urination, severe pain, and weakness, surgery is the only option. While surgery can be successful, there are risks, as with any form of surgery.
The pain from these diseases can be very severe and debilitating for the individual. This can result in a loss of employment and reduction in the ability to live on one's own and do simple everyday tasks. Sometimes, a person with arthritis of the spine can suddenly suffer excruciating pain that will keep him bedridden and unable to do any of the normal housekeeping and hygienic tasks that he normally takes for granted. Patients who endure arthritis of the neck can have similar symptoms. This can bring on added problems, such as depression, loneliness, and financial difficulties. For a Christian, a deep faith and belief in God can be the most helpful form of treatment and relief. Trusting God, having faith in His word, and asking for healing can be more effective than any medicine, brace, or surgery can offer. God encourages us to turn to Him in times of crisis. Jesus gave this advice: "Jesus looking upon them saith, With men it is impossible, but not with God: for with God all things are possible" (Mark 10:27). God knows more about our problems, our pain, and our despair than anyone else. He is the creator of our bodies. We can go to Him with our illnesses and pain, and He will give us peace.