Although spinal stenosis can occur in younger populations born with a congenital defect, most cases occur in patients over 50. Although trauma is a leading cause of spinal stenosis, the effects of aging on the disks between vertebrae and the ligaments that hold everything together can also cause the spinal column to leave too little space for the spinal cord and surrounding nerves, causing pain, weakness, numbness, balance issues, and bladder difficulties. Here’s a look at a few ways of preventing spinal stenosis.
One of the most important aspects of spinal stenosis prevention is keeping your body healthy. Avoiding a sedentary lifestyle may be one of the most helpful methods. It is important not only to get regular exercise, but also to get good exercise. Stronger muscles will help keep the bones moving in the right ways, which means adding weight lifting—even gentle weightlifting—to your cardio. Flexibility is equally important, as muscles that don’t move in the direction they should can be easily pulled and inflamed.
Keeping a healthy weight can also help prevent spinal stenosis, because the less hard your body has to work to move itself the better it can manage. The extra weight adds unnecessary stress to your back, which has to hold it all up. Obesity adds a whole other set of problems that can be detrimental to your health in general too.
There isn’t much that can be done regarding increased age. Because of this, it makes it especially important to treat your body well later in life. Besides a healthy diet and exercise, being sure to use good body mechanics can make a huge difference. Practice good posture, not hunching forward or stressing out your back unnecessarily—not only when your standing, but sitting, sleeping, or in any activity. Pay attention to the way you lift heavy objects, and remember that spinal stenosis may be lifelong, as it isn’t always a “curable” disorder.
Smoking cigarettes has been linked to increased problems, especially considering spinal stenosis and its causes. These tobacco products can make your bones less dense, which makes them weaker and easier to fracture. Furthermore, smoking after surgery for spinal stenosis that involves fusing the vertebrae may increase the time it takes for your body to return to normal.