Can stress play a part or trigger spinal stenosis?

Posted by ggb21 @ggb21, May 23 12:28am

Can stress play a part /trigger as a Cause of spinal stenosis ?

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@ggb21 That's an interesting question. Stress certainly can make health conditions worse in a lot of ways, for example blood pressure. Stenosis is a physical narrowing of either the central spinal canal where the spinal cord is or it can be narrowing around the places where the nerve roots exit the spinal cord. Usually stenosis is caused by changes that occur after an injury, from aging, being born with a congenital smaller diameter space, or instability of the spine if the vertebrae are slipping past each other. Instability indicates that the disc is not structurally intact enough to stop the vertebrae from sliding. Discs act as cushions that allow movement, and when discs collapse or rupture, it leads to stenosis because of the disc material spilling into a space, and because bone spurs usually grow because of the inflammation and uneven pressure on the bones when alignment is not held intact, or by vertebrae slipping past each other.

I do believe that stress can make health worse, and I was under a lot of stress when my spine was deteriorating because I was having to take care of my elderly parents who were both disabled and my dad was at end stage heart disease and passed. I did see some rapid changes on my spine imaging where the bone spurs doubled in area in 9 months times on subsequent MRIs. I don't know how fast that progression would happen if I hadn't been stressed, and it may be different for everyone. I was doing everything I could not to cause more physical stress to my spine which was difficult because of assisting an adult who was physically unstable. Both were in wheelchairs. Toward the end, my dad was too weak to stand and I had to get a Hoyer lift to move him. Honestly, I should not have been doing this, but my parents refused to have nursing home care, and other siblings refused to help so it was all left to me and hired in home caregivers if I could find them. Hired help was not reliable or steady and there was never enough, so I had to be on call all the time and be there more than I was at my own home. I wasn't going to ignore this and my parents didn't recognize their own safety issues and limitations in taking care of themselves. It was exhausting and I would even fall asleep sitting up which was a bad thing when my neck spasm-ed and shifted my vertebrae and put me in significant pain until my therapist could work out the kinks. That was all before I had spine surgery . I had spinal cord compression with a ruptured C5/C6 with bone spurs and had a fusion to correct this. I do think stress played a part in exacerbating my condition, but was not the cause. The cause was an injury from a traffic accident about 20 years earlier and then changes in my spinal condition from aging.

Have you had a spine injury?

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