What is Spinal Stenosis and How Does the Risk Increase as You Age

What is Spinal Stenosis and How Does the Risk Increase as You AgeSpinal stenosis, or vertebral stenosis, is a chronic physical health condition. It occurs when the spaces in your spine (“tunnels”) become too narrow.

What results is added pressure on your spinal cord. And/or you might get added pressure on the nerves that travel from your spinal cord to your muscles. 

As a person who’s over 50, I’m very aware of these spinal issues. So I wanted to share some helpful information all about what is spinal stenosis.

As you might know, I’m a bestselling wellness author. I wrote a longevity book called Life Is Long.  Coming up you’ll learn in simple terms all about what is spinal spinal stenosis. Plus you’ll get helpful prevention suggestions.

What Are the Signs and Symptoms of Spinal Stenosis?

Spinal stenosis can happen in any part of your spine. But it’s more common in your lower back

Stenosis sufferers usually experience:

  • pain
  • numbness
  • muscle weakness
  • tingling in the affected area

However, if spinal stenosis occurs in the lower back, you may experience:

  • pain
  • weakness
  • tingling down through your legs and feet that gets worse when you walk or bend

When found in the neck:

  • the pain will radiate into your arms and hands and get worse if you try to grip or grab objects
  • weakness may occur through prolonged use of your hands and arms

If cervical spinal stenosis is left untreated, you may:

  • lose complete feeling in your arms, hands, legs, or feet

If you experience pain, spinal stenosis may prevent you from walking, standing, or using your arms and hands. It’s essential to seek treatment for spinal stenosis early if you experience symptoms. 

What Are the Risk Factors of Spinal Stenosis?

Spinal stenosis can develop at any age but is more commonly found in people over age 50. 

Age-related changes to bones and ligaments cause our spine to get thicker and stiffer, creating more space in the spine. Osteoporosis, which occurs in nearly half of Americans over age 50, is a big reason why spinal stenosis develops. Fortunately, osteoporosis is preventable.

Below 50s may develop spinal stenosis if they experience a spinal injury, herniated disks, or vertebrae misalignment. Osteoarthritis, spinal tumors, Paget’s disease, and rheumatoid arthritis are other risk factors that may bring on early-onset spinal stenosis (occurring before age 50).

Is Spinal Stenosis Treatable or Curable?

Once spinal stenosis is diagnosed, there is no cure. Symptoms tend to start slowly and worsen over time.

But mild spinal stenosis can be treated with:

  • pain medication
  • physical therapy
  • weight loss
  • acupuncture,
  • chiropractic treatment

However, the best treatment for stenosis is prevention.

If spinal stenosis causes severe pain or weakness, decompressive surgery, like laminectomy, can be used to alleviate pressure on the spinal cord. If spinal stenosis affects multiple areas of the neck and spine, a surgery called “spinal fusion” may be needed to stabilize the spine.

Once spinal stenosis progresses to paralysis or permanent weakness, medical intervention is unlikely to reverse these effects. Since 95% of people aged 50 and up experience some form of degenerative changes in the spine, it’s essential to be proactive to prevent this condition. 

Can I Prevent Spinal Stenosis? 

Degenerative changes in our bone structure are practically inevitable. As a result, many believe that spinal stenosis is a fact of life. However, there’s a significant correlation between the health of the American population and how likely chronic lower back issues occur.

A Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study found that:

  • 90% of the US has a poor diet
  • 25% don’t exercise at all
  • less than 3% of Americans lead a healthy lifestyle where they receive enough nutrients from their food or exercise in the day.

What’s more, a significant amount of Americans don’t sit correctly in their chairs or work in labor-intensive jobs. The poor segments of our population tend to be less healthy overall.

These findings lead a lot of researchers to believe that spinal stenosis is preventable.

It’s just unlikely due to:

  • education
  • job
  • monetary factors

This brings some good news:  if you’re able to maintain good posture, eat a healthy diet, and exercise regularly, you can prevent this disease in old age.

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