Stenosis comes with severe degeneration. In the spine you have one big canal which runs the length of the spine; this is your spinal canal. At each spinal level where the vertebrae meet there forms a hole, or foramen, on each side of the spine. This is where nerve roots exit off of the spinal cord. These nerve roots (or a bundle of nerves) then branch into separate nerves traveling to various parts of the body. For example, in the lower neck they eventually communicate to the hands. So, with hand numbness and tingling you may have nerve entrapment down at the wrist in the carpal tunnel, but you may have nerve pressure higher up in the pathway instead, or both.
Stenosis happens at the spine and it is a closure of one of these holes that the spinal cord or nerves travel through. So, with that hand numbness and tingling example, foraminal stenosis can be entrapping the nerve back at the level of the spine. Also, remember that you have these openings or holes on each side of the spine. This is why someone may experience symptoms only on one side of their body or another.
With spinal stenosis we often get bilateral symptoms because pressure may be on the spinal cord itself thus creating pressure into both sides’ nerve roots. So, stenosis is degeneration which creates closure of one or all of these holes. If that degeneration is in the form of boney growth- bone spurs and arthritic changes, a doctor looking at x-rays may say that there is not much to do but surgery, and the person may not be a surgical candidate.
We do know that when the spine is in proper alignment pressure and inflammation will release. So, using a pillow like our cervical traction pillow may help relieve stenosis pain.
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