The spine is designed to protect the spinal cord. However, the spaces between the bones can narrow due to injury or aging, leading to a condition called spinal stenosis. It can induce pressure on the nerves that spread out from your spine, causing different symptoms that get worse with time. Worry no more as an interventional pain specialist in Houston provides treatments that relieve spinal stenosis symptoms.
How is spinal stenosis diagnosed?
Your doctor reviews your medical history, asks about the symptoms you are experiencing, and conducts a physical exam. While doing a physical exam, your doctor feels your spine by pressing it on different areas to see if you feel pain. Your doctor will ask you to bend in various directions to check if different spine positions bring pain or other symptoms. He also checks your balance, watches how you walk and move, and checks your leg and arm strength.
Your provider will do imaging tests to examine the spine and know the exact location, extent, and type of the problem. Some of the imaging tests include:
X-rays: it uses a small amount of radiation and shows changes in the bone structure, as the development of bone spurs and disk height narrows the spine’s spaces.
MRI: MRI uses radio waves and magnets to create images of the spine. MRI images give detailed images of the discs, spinal cord, nerves, and presence of tumors.
CT or CT myelogram: this scan is a combination of imaging that creates cross-sectional images of the vertebrae.
What causes spinal stenosis?
- Arthritic spurs or bone overgrowth
Osteoarthritis is a condition that breaks down the cartilage in the joints, the spine included. Cartilage is the cover that protects the joints. When the cartilage wears, the bones start to rub against one another. The body responds by growing another bone. An overgrowth of the bone or bone spurs commonly occurs. Bone spurs extend to the spinal canal, pinching nerves and narrowing the space in the spine.
- Bulging or herniated disk
Between every vertebra is a round, flat cushioning pad that acts as a shock absorber on the spine. Age-related flattening and drying out of vertebral disks and cracking on the outer part of the disk cause the disks’ gel-like center to tear or break the outer layer. The bulging disk presses on the nerves near the disk.
Symptoms of spinal stenosis
You may or may not have symptoms when spinal stenosis develops. Narrowing of the spinal canal is always a slow process and gets worse with time. Spinal stenosis can happen anywhere along the spine. Some lower back spinal stenosis symptoms include back pain, tingling or numbness in a leg or foot, weakness in the leg or foot, and cramping or pain in one or both legs. Other symptoms of spinal stenosis in the neck include neck pain, problems with walking and balance, and tingling in a hand or arm.
Many people with spinal stenosis live active lives, but they must adjust their routine exercise or daily activities to assist in managing the symptoms of spinal stenosis. Your healthcare provider can prescribe medications, surgery treatments, or physical therapy to relieve pain and other symptoms. Talk with your doctor to know more about spinal stenosis causes and treatment options.
The Subtle Cues in Our Environment that Encourage Healthier Living
The choices we make each day regarding our diet, activity and lifestyle habits ultimately determine our health and wellbeing. Nonetheless, the surroundings we inhabit also actively influence those decisions, whether we realize it or not. Our built environment contains many subtle cues that either promote or impede healthy behaviors. With thoughtful awareness, we can leverage and shape these cues to nudge ourselves toward more positive choices.
Architectural Cues for Active Living
Urban design and infrastructure elements play a major role in our activity levels. Visible, accessible staircases encourage climbing over passive elevator use. Features like centrally located, attractive stairwells bathed in natural light make stairs hard to ignore. Artwork beautifies the ascent while music enlivens acoustics. Placing stairwells near prominent gathering areas also maximizes exposure and use. Conversely, hidden dreary stairwells discourage climbing. Building layouts should make stairways the default for short trips. Thoughtful design embeds activity into daily routines.
Outside, continuous sidewalks and protected bike lanes provide clear cues that active transit is safe and expected. Ample parking signals driving is preferable. Traffic calming measures like speed humps and narrowed lanes imprint mental cautions for vehicles to accommodate bikes and pedestrians. Sidewalk street furniture and plantings buffer walkers from traffic. Crosswalks, pedestrian signals, and refuge islands imprint rights of way. Complete Streets redesign allocates fair space for diverse safe use. Our infrastructure surroundings can literally pave the path for active living.
Office and Home Cues
Subtle factors within buildings also affect activity and diet. Kitchen placement, for instance, affects our choices. Research shows open concept kitchens integrated into living areas encourage more healthful cooking and family meals than closed off kitchens. Islands and open shelving provide visual snack cues that can either prompt cravings or showcase fruits, nuts, and other healthy grabs. Kitchens sited near entries or offices also maximize visibility and food prep use rather than distant basement kitchens.
At offices, centrally located shared spaces like break rooms, cafes and snack nooks encourage communal meals, informal gatherings and refueling walks to retrieve snacks. Providing showers, bike racks and lockers signals active commuting is valued. Standing and treadmill desks prompt movement during sedentary work, while choice architecture guides selections from communal food areas. Simple environmental adjustments nudge better decisions.
Nutritional Cues at Markets and Restaurants
Eateries and markets harbor cues that stimulate cravings along with willpower depletion. Certain lighting, music, and décor stimulate overindulgence. Cues that unconsciously hurry patrons undermine reasoned decisions. Scented air surrounding baked goods stalls awakens salivation and desire. Strategic menu design also sways choices. Listing unhealthy items first or at eye level suppresses willpower. Descriptive names romanticize less healthy options. Menu formatting can also highlight nutritious dishes and portion guidance. Markets use product placement for maximizing impulse grabs. Though subtle, environmental exposures across stores and eateries significantly sway our eating choices.
Cues for Hydration and Rest
Proper hydration and sleep are imperative for our wellbeing but are easily overlooked when immersed in urban settings and schedules. Environmental design can combat these gaps through strategic cues. Plentiful public water fountains provide visual refreshment reminders throughout cities, while placing restrooms near fountains links the hydration notion. Cafes position chilled water dispensers up front for thirst-quenching without calories. Homes and offices forget hydration less with decorative pitchers and glasses on tables. Lighting design is key for sleep cues. Dimming lights in workplaces and warm home lighting provide visual preparation for rest. Cool-toned blue hues stimulate and signal awakening. Our surroundings can cue us to drink and sleep wisely.
Signage and Sensory Cues
Explicit signs offer direct visual cues to healthier behaviors – such as a no smoking sign that prompts at entrances. Staircases could feature plaques tallying burned calories. Cafeterias may display encouragements to take smaller portions or try vegetable sides. Signs foster mindfulness and restraint at choice points. Sensory cues also guide behaviors. Smells eliciting happiness or calm can de-stress environments. Soothing natural sounds and music relax tense settings. Harsh lighting and noise stimulate frenetic energy and impulsiveness. Pleasant sensory experiences invite more mindful, deliberate choices. Uplifting cues infuse healthy messaging into spaces.
Art and Nature Cues for Wellbeing
Artwork carrying uplifting themes or depicting healthy activities, fruits and vegetables, serene nature and joyful gatherings infuses visual positivity into surroundings. Murals and wall graphics remind us what truly matters for wellbeing. Images are digestible in passing, sinking into the subconscious. Vibrant, thriving plants and greenery provide natural visual relief and comfort that lower stress. Decor mimicking natural materials brings warmer textures. Spatial flow mimicking nature’s curves calms minds. Natural light and windows boost mentality and sleep cycle regulation. Thoughtful touches of art and nature foster mental balance, positivity, and healthy choices.
Our everyday surroundings contain many subtle influences on our diet, activity, sleep, and lifestyle, either promoting or hindering health. But heightened awareness of these cues allows us to consciously reshape environments for encouraging wiser choices. Simple changes to architecture, office layouts, signage, lighting, art, and nature contact encourage movement, nutrition, and wellbeing. Our minds absorb ambient cues, so design wisely. When supportive healthy cues surround us, positive habits become a little easier, more inviting, and purposeful. Think about cues you could shift for better living. Small nudges in public spaces and our homes can guide us all toward healthier, more thoughtful lives.
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