This article features naturopathic remedies such as yoga therapy, chakra balancing and diet guidelines to cure spinal stenosis.
What is Spinal Stenosis?
In general, spinal stenosis is caused by any condition which leads to narrowing of the spinal canal, but the most common is arthritis of the spine.
Herniated discs are often accompanied by a condition called spinal stenosis. Spinal stenosis is an abnormal narrowing of the central spinal canal or intervertebral foramen (lateral spinal stenosis). Central stenosis is narrowing of the central canal where the spinal cord travels. Lateral stenosis is the narrowing of the openings between vertebrae where the nerve roots exit the spine. This narrowing causes nerves to become compressed, either within the spinal cord or as the nerves exit the spinal cord.
Central Spinal Stenosis
Central spinal stenosis can be the result of spinal disc herniation, osteoporosis, osteophytic enlargement of the inferior articular process, congenitally decreased diameters of the spinal canal, and spondylolisthesis. Lateral stenosis is usually caused by a subluxation of the facets as a result of disc narrowing.
Spinal arthritis causes narrowing because it leads to the formation of bone spurs, thickening joint tissue (as a result of chronic inflammation), calcification of spinal ligaments and general degeneration of the spinal discs.
It is not common to find spinal stenosis in people under the age of 30. When younger people develop spinal stenosis it is usually a result of some kind of trauma to the spine.
Signs and Symptoms of Spinal Stenosis
When spinal stenosis is present in the cervical spine, symptoms are often felt in the arms. If the area that is narrowing is in the lumbar spine, the symptoms are usually felt in the legs.
The most common symptoms of spinal stenosis include:
- back pain which is relieved by rest or flexing the spine
- spinal extension increases pain
- loss of bladder and bowel control (in severe cases)
Common medical treatments for Spinal Stenosis
Relieving the pressure on the spinal cord and nerves is the main purpose of any surgery related to spinal stenosis. A surgical procedure called a laminectomy may be performed to lessen the pressure on the spinal cord. This is most commonly performed in the lumbar spine. During this procedure, the lamina and spinous process of the vertebrate are removed. Any other areas encroached upon by bone are also trimmed down.
Chakra Imbalances Associated with Spinal Stenosis
Lumbar Spinal Stenosis
In general, most people suffering from lumbar stenosis in the low back can benefit from visualizations and meditations focusing on the Root Chakra #1. Pain causes fear which causes more tension. Therefore, connecting to the earth and the universal self is always beneficial. The Root Chakra is also referred to as our tribal or ancestral chakra. It’s where we store negative feelings in regard to our family or “tribe.” Hip opening yoga poses are great for releasing emotions stored in our Root Chakra that are no longer serving us.
Cervical Spinal Stenosis
Cervical stenosis is reflective of an imbalance in the Throat Chakra, located from the top of the shoulders up to the mouth. When the throat chakra is out of balance, we manifest disease, pain or even injury as a result of the imbalance. The throat chakra is the center of communication. It depicts how we communicate with ourselves and others. Often, when this chakra is blocked it causes one to feel selfish, harbor feelings of rejection and difficulty in expressing how one feels. Heart opening yoga poses (backbends) are always good for releasing blocked energy in Chakra #5.
Using Meditation to Alleviate Spinal Stenosis
If you are suffering from spinal stenosis in the lower back, visualizing the first three chakras speeding up on the inhale and slowing down on the exhale and/or expanding on the inhale and relaxing on the exhale might help. The same type of visualizations can be done for the heart and throat chakra if the spinal stenosis is located in the upper spine.
Meditation and visualizations that involve watching the chakras blossom one by one along the spine, immersing themselves in the color and nature of that chakra may also be helpful.
Yoga Therapy to Cure Spinal Stenosis
Yoga has the potential to improve vertebral alignment, increase range of motion and correct posture, all of which has the potential to slow down the progression of spinal stenosis. Backbends can close off the spinal canal further and may be contraindicated with central stenosis. However, this must be evaluated on a case-by-case basis as it is always beneficial to move within a pain-free range. Side bending and twisting away from the painful side can open up the spaces between the vertebrae and reduce pressure on nerve roots in those suffering from lateral stenosis.
For both types of spinal stenosis, inversions can help to reduce inflammation. Any poses that bring awareness to a lengthening of the spine in an isometric way such as mountain pose, tree pose, bound angle, and downward dog will usually be beneficial. However, it is particularly important in spinal stenosis to listen to your body’s signals. Any poses that aggravate symptoms can increase damage to the spinal nerves by causing inflammation. The takeaway here is to listen to your body.
Here are a few examples of yoga poses from each category that may be helpful:
Gentle Back Bends
Diet Therapy to Cure Spinal Stenosis
A macrobiotic diet can help cure spinal stenosis by reducing inflammation and therefore the symptoms of spinal stenosis. Alkalizing diets are also popular for their anti-inflammatory properties. Although this diet is controversial and not everyone agrees with it, many people claim to enjoy tremendous benefits from following it.
The Alkaline diet is also known as the Alkaline Ash Diet. It is based on the theory that certain foods leave an alkaline residue or ash after consumption. Minerals like iron, magnesium, calcium, copper and zinc are said to be the principal components of this ash. A food is classified as neutral, alkalizing or acidic according to the pH of the solution created with its ash and water.
Our bodies have an acid-base balance between 7.38 – 7.45. A more alkaline pH is thought to be healthier. An acidic pH is thought to slow down the healing process and provide an environment that has a tendency to promote to disease. In general, the diet involves eating vegetables, nuts, legumes, fresh citrus and low sugar fruits. Alcohol, mushrooms (fungi), grains, dairy, meat and sugar should be avoided.
One of the most famous promoters of the diet is Dr. Robert Young who wrote the popular book “The PH Miracle”. He claims that a diet that is 80% alkaline and 20% acidic is ideal and can even reverse aging. By eating a diet that keeps the pH levels alkaline, the body does not need to use up mineral buffers and calcium stores. The diet has also been said to reduce inflammation, eliminate food sensitivities and restore us to our ideal weight.
There is also strong mind-body component to the alkaline diet. Positive emotions like love, faith, forgiveness and peace are said to have an alkalizing effect while negative emotions like anger, fear and resentment are said to have an acidic effect.
Micah Lyn is a Holistic Healthcare Practitioner HHP, Intuitive Healer and E-RYT 500 Certified Yoga Teacher registered with Yoga Alliance and KRI. She offers a variety of private yoga classes in Sedona AZ, yoga therapy and intuitive healing services at Pachamama Yoga ✨ Sedona Healing Center. Visit the YTT Programs & Workshops page to see upcoming Online & Hands-on Intensive Yoga Teacher Training, Virtual Online Yoga Workshops & Transformational Yoga Retreats featured worldwide.
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