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Doc Talk | Spinal Stenosis

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At some point there's a degenerative condition that doctors say we will all suffer from. But some will suffer more than others.

It's called Spinal Stenosis and it's often confused with arthritis.

Spinal stenosis is a weakness, a pain and an achiness.

While doctors say it's not so easy to prevent, it is treatable.

The next time you drop something, trip or have trouble signing your name mention it to your doctor. It might be more than just clumsiness.

"More often than not, the patients just attribute it to being, “Well I’m’ clumsy. I’m clumsy.” Well there migh be something more going on," explains Dr. Bryan Bolinger, a Holy Spirit neurosurgeon.

Dr. Bolinger says it could be spinal stenosis, a weakness or tightness in the neck or spine that can lead to pain, aches or problems with balance and dexterity.

"We basically describe it as arthritis more often than not. That's a very generic term, though. But what technically is occurring is spinal stenosis," says Dr. Bolinger. "Their functionality is going to progressively deteriorate over the course of time."

Dr. Bolinger says everyone gets it. Many, when they're older. But others notice it when they're younger, often after having a sports-related injury.

"The person might not be able to lift their arm up or their grasp strength might decrease."

Unfortunately, Dr. Bolinger says there's not much you can do to prevent it.

"Even if it doesn’t necessarily prevent progression of spinal stenosis, what it does do is make you a safer surgical candidate if you were to go that route."

And surgery may be the ultimate fix for you. But he says recovery from spinal stenosis surgery might be rough.

If you start noticing symptoms, Dr. Bolinger first suggests following a healthy lifestyle, going to physical therapy, doing yoga or acupuncture or getting injections.

"We can’t undo the damage that has been done to the nerve but what we can do is decompress it and then hope that that is what the nerve needs for improvement."

Dr. Bolinger says spinal stenosis can occur in different parts of the spine and therefore lead to different kinds of pain and symptoms. But if you notice any symptoms, call your doctor.

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