Leaky-gut and inflammation are often the root of the Spinal Stenosis. Elevated systemic inflammation is a common denominator of ALL chronic disease.My dear office manager, Angela, recently pointed out to me that I received a negative YELP review about a year ago. Since I have not had the opportunity to discuss this topic withthe plaintiff directly, I’ve decided to talk about it at large, hoping that she and others might benefit from the conversation.
This “healthy, 55 year old woman” came to me for relief of low-back pain. Perceiving that she had chronic, active arthritic process going on in her lumbar spine, I suggested that she consider embracing an anti-inflammatory diet. I suspected she had a “leaky gut” which was driving inflammatory process in her low back. Subsequently, she went to see her M.D. diagnosed lateral recess stenosis. Somehow, I’m not sure how, this made my assessment wrong in her mind.
Physiotherapy and medications can bring temporary relief from stenosis. But, unless the real cause of the stenosis is addressed it will continue to progress. With few exceptions, elevated systemic inflammation is a primary driving component.
Stenosis is a nasty problem to have. Stenosis means “narrowing” and it involves inflammation and subsequent calcification of the bony tissue of the spine causing narrowing of the channels that the nerves run through.
There are two basic types:
1) Central spinal canal stenosis which chokes the spinal cord and
2) Lateral recess stenosis which chokes the nerves coming off the spinal cord.
In advanced cases, both types can be present.
The symptoms of stenosis include episodic pain in the effected area to begin with. Later, as the nerves become more choked, extremity pain, cramping, numbness, and weakness usually ensue. Unlike osteo-arthritis, which often feels better with activity, the symptoms of stenosis classically worsen with activity
So, here is the simple, yet complex, connection between stenosis and leaky gut syndrome: The intestinal tract is a long tube via which we absorb our nutrients and eliminate our waste. It is made of thin, somewhat elastic tissue. When that tissue becomes inflamed, tiny spaces open up between the cells allowing what is inside the tube to leak out. Waste material outside the gut wall causes inflammatory response, which spreads to the other tissues in the area, including the cartilage and bone of the spine. Additionally, the nerves coming off of the spine in the region are agitated by this inflammation, causing muscle spasm and pain. To top it off, the leakage of inappropriate waste outside the gut wall triggers an autoimmune response which is a significant component of arthritis/stenosis, as well as a long list of other undesirable problems.
Why could even a relatively healthy person’s gut become inflamed?
Stress, modern foods (processing/GMO‘s/chemical farming practices), fruits (sorry, but they ferment!)), grains, drugs, pathogenic microbes, yeast over growth, stress!!
I have had a lot of experience with stenosis in my almost 32 years in practice. Prior to becoming nutritionally savvy on the topic, I did what I could to alleviate acute symptoms, but realized I wasn’t effectively stopping the progress of the disease. This was true of many chronic conditions; arthritis, sciatica, migraine head-aches, high blood sugar, hypertension, weight gain, etc.
In recent years, however, I have seen some truly amazing relief of stenosis and other chronic conditions among patients who are willing to make the changes necessary to reduce their systemic inflammation levels.
Here are a couple of case studies that leap to my mind:
A few years ago there was the 30 something mechanic whose arms and hands were going numb when he gripped a tool. He’d had an MRI and was diagnosed with central cervical spinal stenosis. The anti-inflammatory drugs his primary care doc gave him weren’t working. I worked on him with chiropractic and adjunctive physiotherapy for a couple of months, which brought only temporary relief. Although he claimed to have a good diet and seemed otherwise healthy, I finally suggested he embark on an anti-inflammatory food plan and a liver detox to see what kind of results that might yield. His pain and numbness went away completely within a month. It had not returned when I saw him for a follow-up visit 3 months later. He noted that when he went off the food plan, his symptoms started to return.
There was the gentleman in his 60’s with severe lumbar stenosis who was enrolled in my detox group by his sons who just weren’t going to put up with the fact that their once virile father couldn’t walk more than about 30 feet without sitting down. I was skeptical as to how much I could help with such an advanced case, but the last time I saw the man he was walking over 2 miles every day with no pain or weakness!! He’d also lost his big belly!
I barely recognized him. Hurray!
To date there are no diagnostic tools that I know of that are more advanced than the human hand and the human eye. I have learned to be very observant and sensitive to what my eyes and hands tell me. I notice things like tissue texture and tone that indicate inflammation, spasm, scar tissue, etc.; joint movement, or lack thereof, that indicates joint fixation or arthritis; fluid retention, poochy tummies, skin tone, and of course, postural patterns. I ask what my patients are eating and what is going on in their lives because it is relevant to developing an understanding of their complaints.
My job as a doctor is to help my patients be healthier and I take my job very seriously. While I don’t have all the answers, I have managed to figure out a few important things and one thing I know for sure is that elevated systemic inflammation is the common denominator of ALL chronic disease. If I didn’t share my knowledge and observations with those who come to me for help, I would be guilty of malpractice!
Know this: I will always give my patients the best of what I have to give whether they want to hear it or not.
For more info about leaky gut and some cool graphics check out: https://draxe.com/4-steps-to-heal-leaky-gut-and-autoimmune-disease/