Steps to potentially prevent spinal narrowing

By Michael Perry, M.D.

The most common causes of spinal narrowing, also referred to as spinal stenosis, are age-related degenerative spine conditions. Other causes include disease and hereditary factors, but there are also lifestyle choices that affect the development of this condition. While it is not possible to prevent all causes of spinal narrowing, you can take steps to minimize your risk of developing this condition in the future.

How spinal narrowing occurs

As we age, the discs between the vertebrae, facet joints and vertebrae of our spine begin to deteriorate. This deterioration can lead to conditions that can displace parts of the spine out of their normal place in the spinal column, which can narrow the already tight nerve passages there. As a result the spinal cord or an exiting nerve root can become compressed and cause painful and debilitating symptoms.

Lifestyle changes to prevent spinal narrowing

While no one can prevent spinal degeneration or reverse the natural aging process, staying healthy can lower the risk of spinal stenosis. Staying at a healthy weight, practicing good posture and avoiding high-impact sports are all ways to reduce the pressure and stress on your spine on a daily basis. Talk to your doctor about diet and exercise changes that can help to promote spine health. Low-impact exercise, gentle yoga and other healthy life choices can help to strengthen your spine in the following ways:

  • Vertebrae. Sufficient intake of calcium and vitamin D will help keep your bones strong, reducing your risk of developing osteoporosis.
  • Muscles of the back and neck. Low-impact exercise and core strength building can help reduce some of the weight-bearing stress on your spine.
  • Spinal ligaments. Gentle stretching, like restorative yoga, can help with relaxation and the elongation of ligaments that may be inflamed, causing neural compression.
  • Discs and facet joints. You can help keep these cartilaginous parts of your spine hydrated and strong by drinking plenty of water and eating foods that are high in antioxidants and omega-3 fatty acids. It is also important to avoid tobacco products and reduce alcohol consumption as these activities can reduce the flow of nutrients to the spine, causing the joints and discs to dry out.

You may try your best to prevent spinal narrowing and still experience pain and other symptoms due to neural compression. If this compression occurs, schedule a consultation with your doctor. He or she will be able to give you a diagnosis and devise a personalized treatment plan. For many patients, spinal narrowing can be successfully treated with a course of conservative treatments like medication, physical therapy and the above healthy life choices. Surgery can become an option if conservative treatments don’t improve symptoms after weeks or months.

Treatment for spinal narrowing

If your doctor recommends you consider spine surgery, contact Laser Spine Institute to learn more about our minimally invasive procedures. These outpatient procedures are a safer and effective alternative to traditional open neck and back surgery, offering a reduced risk of complication and shorter recovery time for our patients.^

We want to provide you with the highest level of patient comfort and care. Call a member of our dedicated team today to learn more and to receive your no-cost MRI review* to determine if you are a potential candidate for one of our procedures.