Ask the Doc: Can chiropractic help stenosis?

Editor’s note: Dr. Philip Schalow’s featured article, “Ask the Doc,” appears monthly. This is the seventh column in the series. Send questions for Dr. Schalow to and he will answer each one individually and choose a sampling for this article.

By Dr. Philip Schalow

Probably the most frequently asked question in my office has to do with stenosis (a fancy term for narrowing of the spinal joints).

If we look at the body and how it’s designed — to support itself against gravity with flexibility with myriad muscle and ligament interactions — we are going to recognize that the natural state prevents stenosis. When we begin to lose that natural state after traumatic events that throw the spine out of balance, we have to ask, “Why?”

Since the nerve system controls and coordinates all the systems of the body, we look to see whether it is doing its job. When we see muscles of the back in spasm and weakening, we are able to state — with conviction — that the nerve system has lost its ability to transmit signals properly. One side effect is the spine collapsing on itself, creating narrowing (stenosis) of the openings through which the nerve roots pass.

Chiropractic procedures help to relieve stenosis by restoring communication between the brain and the body. The observable change is in the muscles balancing out. They strengthen and support the back like they are supposed to, and the symptoms associated with stenosis can quiet down.

One of the things that can slow down that process is the presence of stiffened and swollen ligaments that are pressing in on those little windows along the spine. Ligaments heal slowly, but they can heal.

The key to success is not just getting the first step accomplished (restoring balance to the spine), but also exercising patience with yourself in your healing.

Dr. Philip Schalow is a NUCCA practitioner in Rockford. He owns 1st Step Chiropractic, S.C., 4519 Highcrest Road, Rockford. Call (815) 398-4500 for details or visit

From the July 10-16, 2013, issue

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