An Approach Shown To Be Safer and More Effective Than Physical Therapy, Epidurals and Surgery. There are many types and causes of Spinal Stenosis. The majority will respond better to the specific, non-surgical treatments we offer, teach and in many cases developed. This is what we specialize in. Please read this information and listen to the videos of our patient's who've been told they had no other choice than to have surgery or have already had surgery that failed.
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Spinal Stenosis: A Non-Surgical Answer For Most People That Will Work
"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?
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.
A normal Vertebral Segment. Note the spinal canal.
A 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 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.
An 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.
MRI 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%.
An 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.