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Tell Dr. Morris about your spine problem and get an answer today!

Spinal Stenosis: A Non-Surgical Answer For Most People That Will Work

grant j 10-08"My spinal stenosis was diagnosed in the summer of 2007. The back pain and leg weakness had conspired to prevent me from working as a urologic surgeon. I was at first treated with physio-therapy which actually worsened the situation. The next step recommended was epidural injections of steroids which helped at first but only temporarily. I researched the results of surgery for this condition and decided against the different approaches as the results were not patient-favorable. At the beginning of the year 2008, my pain had caused me to rely on narcotic drugs for relief. I was essentially a homebound cripple.

...His (Dr. Morris') history taking and physical diagnosis were exemplary. As a physician myself, I appreciated the expertise and time he spent ….

I began the Dr. Morris treatment plan in March, and by July I had given up my walker, went to the YMCA for pool exercises, and followed Dr. Morris' exercise and diet plan. At the conclusion of the treatments, my pain had disappeared.

My admiration for Dr. Morris and his staff is beyond words. He gave me my life back."

--John Grant, MD
Urologic Surgeon

 

Click Letters and Videos From Our Patients to learn from those who suffered with and know most about these conditions. They offer understanding and good advice.

What Is Spinal Stenosis?

Spinal stenosis is a narrowing of the spinal canal (i.e. the long vertical tube-like space, encased by your vertebrae, that protects your spinal cord).

spinalstenosis01A normal Vertebral Segment. Note the spinal canal.

 

spinalstenosis02A Cross Section of The Vertebra noting the location of the Spinal Canal which houses the spinal cord (looking downward from the top of the spine) .

 

The size of your spinal canal is genetically determined, but it can be narrowed by the effects of gravity, degeneration (such as arthritis disc narrowing and spurring) spinal misalignment, disc herniations, etc.... That’s why spinal stenosis is more common as we age. A narrowed canal limits the room for the nerves and spinal cord to pass causing back, leg and arm symptoms. Lower back stenosis is usually the most painful when standing and walking. Sitting and curling up in a ball temporarily enlarge the canal and relieves the pain. Cervical spinal stenosis is often made worse by looking up or lifting something above your head.

spinalstenosis03The Spinal Cord within the Spinal Canal. Note the Spinal Nerves leave between the vertebrae. You can see how gravity can cause the vertebrae to squeeze the nerves between each vertebrae or magnify misalignments which can squeeze the nerves or spinal cord.

 

 

What Causes Spinal Stenosis?

As we mentioned, aging can narrow the spinal canal due to the following reasons:

  • Spinal curves increase as we age due to the compressive forces of gravity. Spinal misalignment, bad posture and poor muscular support narrow the canal as well. In other words, a curved spine compresses the spinal canal and a straight spine opens it up.
  • The narrowing, herniation or bulging of the spinal discs into the spinal canal (see figure below). Click Answers for Disc Herniations to learn our centers approach to this problem.
  • Thickening of the ligament within the spinal canal, called the Ligamentum Flavum, resulting in less room for the spinal cord (see figure below).
  • Enlarging of the spinal facets usually due to arthritis which may bulge into the spinal canal.
  • Scar tissue from prior spinal surgeries or injuries invading the spinal canal.

spinalstenosis04An MRI of the of the spine (A cross section looking from the top downward. The back of the spine is at the bottom of the picture). Notice the full size of a normal spinal canal.

 

spinal stenosisMRI cross section of the spine with a narrowed spinal canal (Spinal Stenosis). In this case it is narrowed by a herniated disc and thickened ligaments. The spinal canal is reduced by approximately 50%.

 

spinalstenosis06An MRI of the low back looking from the side (the back of your spine is located on the right side of the picture). Notice how the spinal canal is narrowed. The disc bulges from one side while scar tissue and a thickened ligament bulges from the other.

 

What Are The Signs of Spinal Stenosis?

Spinal stenosis is commonly seen in the last three levels of the lumbar spine ( L3—S1) and the middle cervical spine (C4-C7). Even though a spinal stenosis may be seen on an MRI, Myelogram or even X-ray--its diagnosis as the cause of your pain can only be made from a thorough Spinal Stenosis Examination. Just because you have a narrow canal does not mean it’s causing your back, leg or arm pain! Many canals are quite small, yet produce few symptoms.

The most common symptom of lumbar spinal stenosis is spinal claudication. It’s a name we use to describe leg pain that increases with walking and is relieved by sitting and resting. It often occurs down both legs (although one leg is usually worse) and is often associated with numbness, burning and leg weakness. The symptoms can be anywhere from your buttocks to your feet.

Most patients complain they can walk a few blocks or less, but have to stop due to leg pain. Usually the achiness or burning goes away by bending or bringing the legs up into the chest (while lying down). But it comes back after resuming the walk. The stenosis may become so severe that the leg pain becomes constant and unremitting, making walking nearly impossible. The disability on ones life cannot be overstated both mentally and physically!!!

Cervical Spinal Stenosis can cause weakness, numbness and pain from your neck, to your torso to your legs (basically, anything below the stenosis). Spasticity and cramping below the effected area is more common in cervical stenosis.

Couldn’t My Leg Pain Be Caused By Something Other Than Spinal Stenosis?

Of course it can. These are a few of the conditions that must be distinguished from Spinal Stenosis:

  • Herniated disc without spinal stenosis.
  • Disc tear and leaky disc syndrome.
  • Spondylolisthesis or Spondylolysis.
  • Sciatica and Piriformis Syndrome.
  • Compressed Spinal Nerves (outside of the spinal canal).

These conditions all have different treatments. Many of our patients had been misdiagnosed originally and weren’t returned to their healthy lives until the correct diagnosis and treatment plans began. My greatest joy in practice is returning patient’s lives back from pain and disability to one that’s free and active. In other words, giving them their lives back.

What Are My Treatment Options?

Patients are often told there are no good treatments for spinal stenosis. THIS IS NOT USUALLY TRUE. Yes it is difficult to treat, but our patients will tell you that proper treatment has given their lives back to them.

Surgery is rarely an option since it may produce scar tissue which can further narrow the spinal canal. Also, the surgery that enlarges the spinal canal is often quite invasive and has poor outcomes.

Anti-inflammatory medications may temporarily help the symptoms, but as the canal narrows, the condition worsens.

Physical therapy modalities such as heat, ultrasound and electric stimulation are usually only mildly helpful. Exercises are essential and must be performed in an exact way so that the canal is stabilized and enlarged, not compressed. Often patients are prescribed exercises that do as much harm as good.

Chiropractic manipulation can be helpful if performed properly. The spinal alignment must be optimized to expand the spinal canal. The doctor must be careful to avoid certain techniques which can worsen the condition.

What’s The Best Treatment for Spinal Stenosis?

The Morris Spinal Stenosis and Disc Center designed a protocol which is taught to health care providers all over the country. It’s very thorough, safe and comprehensive. It utilizes Non-Surgical Spinal Decompression with the DRX 9000 Spinal Decompression Device as well as methods designed specifically for the treatment of spinal stenosis from physical therapy, chiropractic and rehabilitation. If your spinal stenosis fits our treatment guidelines, our outcomes are exceptional. Patients often double and triple their walking and standing abilities within two months!! Their use of medication is often cut in half. But, it isn't for all types of spinal stenosis (Click Spinal Stenosis Research to learn the results of a study performed in our center on patients with severe spinal stenosis).

Those spines that are surgically fused or have spinal canals that are narrowed by a bony spur are not good candidates for this treatment, but fortunately this is absolutely the best approach for most.

You can read an article by Dr. Morris describing the types of stenosis most helped by his approach by clicking this link: Spinal Stenosis by Dr. Rick Morris.

What’s Your Treatment Plan?

Our approach is an intensive three to five-month protocol. It combines all traditional and non-traditional approaches that open the spinal canal including the Non-Surgical Spinal Decompression from DRX 9000. As mentioned previously, spinal alignment, physical therapy, rehabilitation and many other modalities are used as well. This is not just a standard six week DRX Spinal Decompression Program that is found in most centers. It is a treatment system designed specifically for Spinal Stenosis. It allows us to:

  • Lengthen the Spine and Decrease Spinal Curvatures
  • Reduce Disc Herniations
  • Reduce Spinal Adhesions and Scar Tissue
  • Enlarge The Spinal Canal
  • Strengthen and Stabilize the Surrounding Muscles and Soft Tissue

The approaches and modalities we use have been studied and shown to be unmatched in treating severe cases of spinal stenosis. In practice, we see its effects on spinal stenosis’ pain and disability every day.

Please…if you believe you have spinal stenosis, don’t give up and settle for surgery, more injections and disability. It doesn’t just stay the same; it usually gets worse with age. The longer you have it, the more damage occurs to the nerves and the more difficult it is to treat.

 

For Further Information:

Click on Research to see the Spinal Stenosis study that was performed in our center.

Click on the Morris Spinal Stenosis and Disc Center to learn more about our center.

Click on Our Staff to learn more about the professionals we work with.

To Get Help For Spinal Stenosis:

Schedule an appointment with our office by calling (310) 451-5851 or contact us by E-Mail.

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