It’s common to see older adults with a slumped posture, and though there are many possible reasons for this, perhaps the most common cause is a condition called spinal stenosis.
The Mayo Clinic notes that spinal stenosis can result from wear-and-tear that narrows the spinal disks. This narrowing can place pressure on the nerve roots as they exit the spine prior to traveling down into the legs. The symptoms—which can include pain, numbness/tingling, and weakness—typically come on gradually and may worsen over time. The spinal stenosis patient may feel more comfortable by leaning or bending forward as this posture opens the holes in the spine (the foramen), taking pressure off the nerves.
Because spinal stenosis is a condition caused by wear-and-tear, some individuals may be at more risk than others, especially those with a history of spinal/disk injury, heavy labor, poor nutrition, or obesity.
The good news is that patients with spinal stenosis can benefit from non-surgical approaches!
In a 2019 randomized trial involving 259 seniors with spinal stenosis, researchers compared the effectiveness of three approaches: medical care (including epidural steroid injections), group-based exercise, or manual therapy (spinal mobilization performed by a doctor of chiropractic) with individualized exercise (stretches and strength training).
While participants in the medical care and exercise-only groups reported some benefits, the research team noted that the patients in the manual therapy plus individualized exercise group experienced greater improvements with respect to pain, function, and walking ability.
The “take-home” message here is that in all three measured outcomes—pain, function and walking ability—the chiropractic approach did the BEST! If you suffer from spinal stenosis and its associated symptoms and walking limitations, PLEASE consider chiropractic not only as an option but perhaps as this study points out, the BEST option!