What Causes Spinal Stenosis to Flare Up?

Spinal stenosis flare up occurs when the spaces in the spine become narrow, putting pressure on the spinal cord and nerves. Changes related to aging are a common cause for the condition, but it can also be a result of congenital factors; some people are simply born with a narrower spine. Other spinal conditions such as scoliosis can also be a risk factor for the condition. 

There are two regions where spinal stenosis can occur: the lower back or the neck. Common symptoms include pain in the affected area, as well as numbness or weakness in the arms and legs. Treatment for the condition may vary based on the severity of symptoms. For mild cases, doctors may simply recommend routine monitoring and home remedies such as pain relievers, heat and cold therapy, and exercise. In more severe cases, treatments such as a decompression procedure may be recommended to remove portions of ligaments that are compressing nerve roots. Spinal stenosis surgery is usually reserved for only the most severe cases, including those with pronounced pain or loss of bladder control. 

Avoiding Spinal Stenosis Flares

Because spinal stenosis is largely due to age-related factors, including bone and muscle loss, there’s no way to completely guarantee full prevention of spinal stenosis. With that being said, certain factors could contribute to the condition or cause flare-ups in existing cases. Here are some factors to watch for:

  • Being overweight: Carrying extra weight puts excess strain on the spine. Maintaining a healthy weight through a nutritional diet and exercise are good ways to control symptoms or minimize your risk for the condition. 
  • Smoking: Researchers have established a link between smoking and back conditions that require spinal surgery. In particular, smoking appears to increase the risk of a narrowed lower spinal space. Smoking cessation can help reduce the risk. 
  • Poor Posture: Your posture plays an important role in maintaining spinal health. Poor posture can shift the alignment of the tissues in the back, aggravating preexisting conditions such as spinal stenosis. Using ergonomic furniture and taking breaks to sit or stand frequently throughout the day helps promote good posture. 
  • Inactivity: Exercise keeps the muscles that support the spine strong, and can also help you maintain flexibility and balance. Periods of inactivity can have the opposite effect and may contribute to flare-ups. 

Tracking your symptoms is important with spinal stenosis flare up, as the condition can develop slowly over time. Lifestyle treatments and avoidance of known triggers may help to control your pain for a long time, but if you tried these methods and are still experiencing discomfort, it may be time to consider other treatment options. 

Some patients are discovering the healing potential of stem cell therapy options. The cells have the potential to help with inflammation, pain, and regeneration of tissues. It is important to have a regenerative medicine spine specialist review candidacy to determine if the outcome is optimal for the patient. Discover if you are a candidate with a complimentary assessment. 

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