The advancements in technology have completely changed the way of life in comparison with the past times. Looking 20-30 years back instead of a whole century can highlight how people have become dependent on shortcuts and technology.
The fundamental difference that has occurred is that the amount of work that involves physical labor has reduced greatly. Instead, there is a pool of employment for jobs that require more sitting and office work.
In addition, most of the things that took months or even years to happen can now be done in minutes. The fast pace of life and work keeps a person engaged continuously and leaves no times behind which can be used for other concerns.
This has had a number of issues on both physical and mental health. One of the health concerns that have been seen to be on the rise is chronic back pain particularly for people with office jobs. In accordance with the statistics, over 75% of the people experience continuous back pain.
Previously, back pains were typically confined to people over the age of 40 with health conditions that did not allow them necessary back movements or people who have had spinal cord damaging accident. Nowadays, chronic pain can even be seen in young adults.
The prevalent pain in the back can be due to a number of reasons. Chronic back pains are usually linked to the compressed nerve root and herniated risks. Another factor that is increasingly causing back pain in people is spinal stenosis.
The spinal cord is the main bone at the back that maintains the balance of the whole body and keeps it upright. The main structure is further divided into 26 smaller bones are responsible for every basic movement of the body such as turning, running, and lifting.
Spinal stenosis is the weakening and tearing of these structures that can lead to cartilage loss and lower bone density. It is often one of the effects of aging on the body and can be cited as one of the types of degenerative cascades.
While spinal stenosis is more likely to occur in older people due to aging, others with specific injuries, diseases, tumors, inflammations, diet, spinal conditions, and daily habits can be at higher risks of developing it as well.
One of the reasons behind getting stenosis can even be genetics. Teenagers and young adults who experience stenosis typically have it because they are born with a narrower than normal spinal canals. This can also affect their movements in many ways.
Recently, middle-aged people and young adults have been experiencing back pains combined with stenosis. Secondly, the changed lives today place most of us at a higher risk of getting the disorder as many of us unknowingly have habits that can be damaging to the spine and back.
What Is Spinal Stenosis?
Diseases and disorders that can harm the spinal cord or neck bones are not only difficult to manage as they can restrict many of the everyday activities but can also potentially end up in making you disabled and losing the ability to do the most basic movements such as walking.
Spinal stenosis is a back issue that occurs due to the narrowing of the spinal canal. The spinal canal is a very important structure that is actually the passageway for the nerves that run down the back and control all the processes there.
The disorder is triggered mostly because of increased pressure on the spinal cord. This is not an instant effect and only happens after persistence of the pressure that the spinal cord is not able to handle leading to back pain and nerve issues.
Symptoms of spinal stenosis begin in the neck area or in the lower backs, also known as the lumbar region.
You can start by experiencing a mild to severe pain that remains for a long time and occurs randomly at any time of the day or when you do the activity that places pressure on the spinal cord.
Since spinal damage also means damage to the nerves that connect the body, it is also possible for people with stenosis to experience other issues such as abnormal bowel movements or problems related to the bladder.
One of the problems that are faced when it comes to diagnosis of spinal stenosis is that some people may not experience any signs at all. Typically, cases such as these can cause serious damage as the treatment and diagnosis are late.
The conventional treatment for spinal stenosis is oral medication along with recommended exercises and guidelines. For people with severe spinal damage, doctors may suggest undergoing a surgery.
What Are The Symptoms Of Spinal Stenosis?
Spinal stenosis requires immediate medical attention in most of the cases because it is one of the most damaging disorders. In addition, many of the people may confuse it with normal back pain and neglect the symptoms.
In other cases which are also the most dangerous, there are little or no signs that go unnoticed. This is considered the worst of all scenarios because the patient usually seeks medical attention when significant spinal damage has already occurred.
In accordance with the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases, common symptoms of spinal stenosis include:
- Back pain (either in whole or lower back)
- Loss of Balance
- Stiff Neck or Pain in the Neck
- Immediate pain during exercise or lifting
- Muscle weakness
- Pain around the Sciatic nerve (knees, legs, and hips)
- Inability to Stand for Long (without pain)
- Numbness and tingling sensations in Lower Back (which can later spread to rest of the body)
- Abnormal Bowel movements
- Impaired Bladder
- Extreme weakness or even paralysis (in extreme cases)
The symptoms of spinal stenosis do not occur at the same time. Instead, it starts only with signs that can be confused with everyday pains such as temporary back pains when sitting in one position for too long or standing for too long.
Signs of nerve degeneration and other effects on the body come much later. As the compression of the nerve roots and inflammation worsens, other signs in addition to the numbness, weakness, and lower back pain start to occur.
In people who experience little to no signs, spinal stenosis can go undiagnosed for years and cause considerable damage.
What Can Cause Spinal Stenosis?
Spinal stenosis occurs when the nervous channel located at the back is narrowed and is surrounded by nerves. It is usually seen in people who have crossed the age of 50 due to a couple of reasons including:
- Cartilage loss
- Nerve Degeneration
- Weakened joints
- Broken/weakened ligaments
- Decreased lower body strength
- Other health conditions
- Nutritional deficiencies
- Poor diets
According to the researchers, 13% of the people in the older age groups have degenerative lumbar stenosis in the United States.
For middle-aged people and young adults suffering from stenosis and chronic back pains, it can be usually due to other disorders that trigger stenosis or problems related to bone strength and density.
Degenerative joint diseases, sciatic nerve pain, tumors, rheumatoid arthritis, osteoporosis, osteopenia, spinal injuries, and genetics are some of the leading factors that behind the occurrence and prevalence of spinal stenosis.
A very common and unusual reason that has been causing spinal stenosis recently is sitting for long hours in the same and often uncomfortable position. This is a habit usually seen in people with jobs that require a lot of sitting or young adults who spend a lot of time studying.