Monthly Archives: October 2015

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Lumbar Stenosis Versus Cervical Stenosis

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Stenosis is a medical term used to describe an abnormal narrowing of a bodily passage. When dealing with back health, there are two major areas we see problematic stenosis. One is the lower back, or lumbar; the other is cervical, or up near the neck. While there are cases of congenital spinal stenosis, most spinal stenosis is the result of normal aging. It’s another common condition that’s important to be aware of for a several reasons. First, the risk of developing serious complications as a result of spinal stenosis can be reduced by taking the kind of preventative measures essential to overall spine health, such as regular exercise, proper nutrition, and modifying workplace or lifestyle behaviors that jeopardize spine health. Second, in certain cases, spinal stenosis can pose serious health risks, so it’s crucial to stay alert to signs something dangerous is developing.


Spinal stenosis of either variety generally places more pressure on nerves as it grows more severe. A lucky few may experience no symptoms, but overwhelming spinal stenosis compressed nerves cause uncomfortable sensations such as numbness, weakness, tingling, and/or pain. These symptoms can be similar for lumbar and cervical stenosis patients, although some are more indicative of one form.

Lumbar stenosis compresses the spinal nerve roots in the lower back. This can lead to symptoms associated with sciatica, namely tingling, numbness, etc. that radiates down the lower back through the legs. It can also lead to leg pain that occurs while walking, a symptom that may be alleviated when sitting or leaning forward, as when pushing a supportive device.

Unpleasant though its symptoms may be, lumbar stenosis doesn’t present as much danger overall health as cervical stenosis. Whereas lumbar stenosis compresses the spinal nerve roots, cervical stenosis causes compression of the actual spinal cord–a condition known as myelopathy. Myelopathy can lead to extreme weakness and paralysis. Early signs include loss of fine motor skills, “electric shock” sensations shooting through limbs, and arm pain.

Stenosis can occur in the mid, or thoracic section of the spine, but it’s rare, and much less likely to lead to any serious problems.


Lumbar stenosis is often treatable with a combination of physical therapy, pain medications, and bed rest. Corticosteroid injections may also offer relief in some cases. Myelopathy, which can develop from cervical stenosis, is a significantly more threatening condition, and one which likely merits surgical intervention.
Diagnosing the source of spinal stenosis is an important step in establishing a long term wellness plan. If you’ve started experiencing symptoms of spinal stenosis, we encourage you to request an appointment with our spine care specialists.

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Understanding Discogenic Disease

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If you suffer back pain, the internet can be a convenient tool for exploring potential causes. But sometimes, it can also lead you to diagnosis that sound misleadingly exotic or just downright confusing, but which in reality are common and treatable. Such is the case with discogenic disease, a scary term for a condition which is not really a disease so much as a natural side effect of aging.

   Specifically, discogenic disease refers to the gradual deterioration of the intervertebral discs–something which happens as we age. Unfortunately, this process can have some painful consequences.  Degraded discs are prone to herniation and bulging, which can place pressure on the nerves. Material from inside these disks can leak out and irritate the nerve further, or pieces of the disk can break off and shift into the spinal column. This can lead to reduced mobility along with severe pain.

   The good news is that there are ways to help preserve disc health, lowering the risk of suffering some of those complications of damaged discs. Plus, there are ways to treat discogenic disease injuries. Discogenic disease is, after all, something all aging humans deal with, and one medical professionals have had ample opportunity to study.

   There’s quite a bit of overlap between discogenic disease prevention and best practices for preventing other conditions associated with ageing, like osteoporosis. Make sure to include plenty of bone building calcium (leafy greens, dairy) and vitamin D (sun exposure, oily fish, dairy) in your diet. Consult a medical professional about the potential addition of supplements or medication to promote bone density. Exercise regularly but with attention to form; if possible, try aqua exercises to take some pressure off joints and bones. Maintain a healthy weight. Be smart about what your lug around. Minimize lifestyle and workplace risk factors–if you work at a desk, make sure to take breaks to stand and stretch hourly, and if you perform manual labor, talk to a physician about bracing and/or posture corrective exercises to insure you’re able to protect your back.

   If you’re already dealing with discogenic disease related pain, there are a variety of options. Medication, physical therapy, bracing, and complementary medicine can all help alleviate pain and make for a strong recovery. In rare cases, surgical intervention may be necessary to correct severe, potentially mobility-altering issues.

We encourage you to request an appointment if you believe you are experiencing back issues due to discogenic disease or simply want to make sure you’re on the right track to keep your spine healthy far into retirement. Our New Jersey team brings decades of spine care expertise offers comprehensive support through diagnostics, treatment, and wellness plans designed to help you stay healthy, stay strong, and feel great.

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