Are you or someone you know living with lumbar spinal stenosis? This common condition affects the spinal canal, causing pain, discomfort, and limited mobility. Surgery is not the only option when looking for a remedy, in fact, physical therapy has been proven to be just as effective. It is important to take the right plan of action and slow down the progression of the condition as efficiently as possible. Continue reading to uncover the essential changes that can transform your experience with lumbar spinal stenosis.
If you have lumbar spinal stenosis, lifestyle changes can often help relieve your back pain caused by narrowing spaces in the spinal canal. Just as there are tips for what you should do, there are also tips for what you should not do.
You may be waiting and hoping it will go away. You may be doing exercises without knowing if you are doing enough or the right kind. Finally, you may be wondering if you should have surgery to fix the problem.
This article looks at what you should stop doing if you have lumbar spinal stenosis. It also explores some non-surgical ways to relieve pain and strengthen your spine.
Stop Waiting for It To Go Away
You may be waiting and hoping your symptoms will just go away. But lumbar spinal stenosis is different from many other causes of back pain. It is a progressive condition that often gets worse if you do nothing.
“Progressive” doesn’t mean there is nothing you can do. Exercising can help you move more freely. It can also decrease back and leg pain. Working to improve your strength and range of motion can help you walk better with less pain.
Taking an active role in your care is one of the best ways to manage your condition.
Stop Treating Only the Inflammation
Spinal stenosis is caused by a narrowing of your spinal canal. This narrowing can irritate the nerves that travel down your legs. Symptoms are typically worse when you walk. They often get better when you sit down or bend forward.
With this condition, your spinal nerves can become inflamed and irritated. Taking anti-inflammatory medication can bring you some short-term relief.
Relying on anti-inflammatory medication can worsen symptoms. In the long run, anti-inflammatories may limit your ability to move. You will need other therapies to strengthen muscles and prevent more damage.
To treat your condition, you must change the biomechanics of your spine—the way your spine moves. You can do this by exercising and correcting your posture.
Stop Doing Only Flexion Exercises
In the past, many specialists prescribed only flexion exercises for people with spinal stenosis. Flexion exercises bend the spine forward. Why? Bending forward increases the diameter of your spinal canal. Creating more space in your spinal canal takes pressure off the nerves in your spine.
Today, it is more common to include exercises that allow you to bend backward, too. One such movement is called a sustained standing lumbar extension. This exercise gently presses against your spinal discs, moving them away from your spinal canal and nerves to give them more room.
Talk to your healthcare provider or physical therapist to find out if spinal extension exercises may help you. They can show you how to do these exercises safely.
Stop High Impact Exercise
High-impact exercise involves running, jumping, and climbing. These activities create repeated impacts on the spine, which can worsen pain. Even prolonged walks should be avoided because they can cause muscle fatigue, which can increase the strain on your lumbar spine.
Contact sports such as football, soccer, basketball, and martial arts also involve a lot of impact and can result in sudden trauma or further injury to the spine.