Spinal Stenosis

Spinal Stenosis

Understanding Spinal Stenosis

Treating Stenosis with Cox Flexion-Distraction Treatment


Senior man suffering from back painSpinal Stenosis is a common, potentially debilitating source of back pain and/or leg pain caused by an abnormal narrowing of the spinal canal. People who suffer from this condition  experience pain in the lower back and legs, and typically have difficulty walking as standing (sitting is usually the most comfortable position).  While stenosis can be a source of  back pain, the bigger concern is the narrowing of the spinal canal as it will compress the spinal cord and/or nerve roots, leading to pain, numbness, and weakness in the leg – these can become long term, potentially permanent problems.

Spinal Stenosis can be a difficult condition to treat both conservatively, as well as surgically – but this does not mean that help is not available.  In fact, a treatment method known as Cox Flexion-Distraction  has emerged as one of the most effective, safest, and well researched therapies for treating Spinal Stenosis.  But before we talk about how Cox Technique works so effectively, it is helpful to first discuss what Spinal Stenosis is and how it develops in the first place.


‘Cox Technique can often provide dramatic relief when there are few
other effective treatment options available’


How Does Spinal Stenosis Develop?

The spine consists of a series of spinal bones – anatomically referred to as vertebrae – stacked together to form a moveable column.  As the vertebrae join together one atop the other they do so in such a way that the openings at the centre of each vertebrae line up to form the spinal canal, a long channel that runs down the centre of the spine and houses the spinal cord.  As the spinal cord descends within the spinal canal it gives off nerve branches that exit the spine though small holes in the spine (these holes are referred to as intervertebral foramen). In the case of the lumbar spine, each of these exiting nerves will travel down the leg to supply the skin, muscles, and ligaments.

Under normal circumstances, there is enough space within the spinal canal and intervertebral foramen for the spinal cord and exiting nerve branches. However, as we age there are several events that can occur with can cause these spaces to become narrowed and compress the nerves that live in these spaces.

1. Spinal Degeneration
One the most significant conditions leading to spinal stenosis is joint degeneration (this can include degenerative disc disease, or degeneration/osteoarthritis of the spinal joints). Spinal degeneration is associated with extra bone growth around areas of stress or overload.

2. Disc Bulge/Disc Degeneration
Between each vertebrae is an intervertebral disc. As we age these discs can become thinner, which will reduce the space between each verterbrae and lead to narrowing of the intervertebral foramen. In addition, as the disc thins it will start to bulge outwards, further compromising space within the spinal canal.

As the spinal canal and intervertebral foramen become narrowed it will begin to compress the nerves that pass through these areas.  This will in turn lead to low back pain and sciatica symptoms, including pain, numbness, and possibly weakness into the leg. These symptoms are usually most prominent with standing and walking as these postures are naturally associated with narrowing of the spine compared to sitting.


Did You Know…Although spinal stenosis is associated with structural changes in the bones and joints, it does not mean that nothing can be done to treat or alleviate this condition. In fact, there are many people who demonstrate spinal stenosis on x-rays or MRI imaging yet experience no symptoms at all!


Resolving Spinal Stenosis Pain with Cox Flexion-Distraction

When treating spinal stenosis, the goal is to safely restore normal flexibility to the spine and increase space as much as possible within the spinal canal and affected intervertebral foramen.  This will reduce pressure on the spinal cord and pinched nerves within the spine. While Spinal Stenosis can be a difficult condition to treat both conservatively, as well as surgically, Cox Flexion-Distraction Technique has emerged as one of the most effective, safest, and well researched therapies for low back pain, including spinal stenosis.

Here’s how Cox Technique works…

Cox Flexion-Distraction therapy is performed using a specially engineered treatment table that gently pulls and stretches the spine. With the patient lying face down on the table, the lower section of the table (the part of the table supporting the patients’ legs) can be slowly pulled down and away. This motion lengthens the spine, pulling the vertebrae away from each other. This motion acts to open space in the spinal joints and take pressure off the compressed spinal cord and nerves. As the spine stretches the doctor is able to focus the decompressive stretch at the most affected level(s) by using a specific hand contact on the spine while the table is pulled away. This focal pressure applied by the doctor makes Cox Technique more effective than automated traction machines or inversion devices which apply only a general traction, and do not provide feedback to doctor with respect to the health of the spinal joints.

Each decompression stretch is applied in a rhythmical push-pull action five or six times for a total of about 20 seconds. This process is usually repeated three times. These procedures are supplemented with home stretches and exercises.   The goal of the exercise plan is to increase the flexibility of the hips to spare the back, and to strengthen the spine in a position that creates more space within the spinal canal and intervertebral foramen.


Get Relief with Cox Technique

To book an appointment to see if Cox Flexion-Distraction will be able to help with your problem simply call our office at (905) 685-7227, or book an initial assessment using our online scheduling system.

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Posted on

May 26, 2014