Can physical therapy help spinal stenosis?
Spinal stenosis refers to a condition that narrows the openings in the vertebrae. These openings can be found in the central spinal canal where the spinal cord sits or in the foramen. These are small openings at the sides of each vertebra, where the spinal nerve roots branch from the spinal Cord.
The most common form of spinal stenosis in the low back is the lumbar. It affects more than 200,000 Americans. It can also happen in the cervical spine.
The discs between the vertebrae of spinal stenosis are believed to be the source of degenerative changes. These discs provide shock absorption and cushioning for the spine.
They lose water content over time and their disc heights decrease. This can lead to a loss of shock absorption and cushioning. Friction can result when the vertebrae of a spine become compressed.
Excessive scar tissue or bone spurs can cause degenerative spinal stenosis. A bone spur is an abnormal growth that forms on the edges of bones.
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Spinal Stenosis Assessment at our clinic
Your doctor will diagnose spinal stenosis. Your physician will take an x-ray of your lower back in order to pinpoint the location of spinal stenosis and measure the narrowing of your lumbar vertebrae.
Often, low back pain can be caused by stiffness, mobility problems, or loss of range of motion. You may feel pain, numbness or tingling in your lower legs, buttocks, thighs and buttocks if spinal stenosis has resulted in nerve compression.
The following are the symptoms that a physical therapist will use to determine the severity of spinal stenosis:
- Mobility of your lumbar spine vertebrae
- How your spine twists and bends in different directions
- Your core, back and hip strength are important.
- Your balance
- Your posture
- You have the ability to switch positions
- Your gait pattern (how you walk)
To determine if you have any symptoms in your legs due to nerve compression, a physical therapist will also examine your spine. You can check out more information about our specialists at our contact page.
Most commonly, spinal stenosis manifests itself as increased pain due to backward bending (extension or extension of the lumbar spine). This includes any position that extends the spine such as standing, walking and lying on your stomach.
The symptoms usually improve when you bend forward or when your spine is in flexion (flexed, bent), as when sitting or reclining. These positions can open up the spinal canal’s spaces.
A more severe form of spinal stenosis can cause significant pain and limited mobility. Nerve compression can also lead to weakness in the legs. Nerve compression is not usually involved in mild cases of spinal stenosis. Back stiffness is more common.
Spinal Stenosis Physical Therapy in our area
Physical therapy is a treatment that focuses on the following goals for someone suffering from spinal stenosis:
- Improved range of motion for the lumbar spine
- Reduce tightness in the muscles surrounding you
- Reduced pain and stiffness in the joints
- Nerve compression can be relieved
- Core strengthening
- Improved postural alignment of the Lumbar Spine
- To improve balance and overall function, leg strength should be improved
An outpatient physical therapist is the best option for treating spinal stenosis.
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Stretching the lower back muscles, both those running vertically and diagonally from the pelvis and lumbar spine can help ease muscle pain and tightness. It can also improve mobility and range of motion for the lumbar vertebrae.
It is important to stretch the hip muscles, including the hip flexors at the front, the piriformis at the back, and the hamstrings running from the knee to the ankle. These muscles attach to the pelvis which connects directly to the lumbar spine. Mobility of the lumbar spine can be affected by restrictions in the hip muscles.
Core strengthening exercises will also be important. The core muscles, which include the abdominal muscles in your trunk, pelvis and lower back, as well as the muscles in the hips and abdomen, help stabilize the lumbar spine. They also protect it from excessive movement. See one of the treatment methods used in helping with spinal stenosis at our specializing in telehealth physical therapy treatment options and corrective exercise solutions page.
Many times, spinal stenosis is caused by weak core muscles. These muscles don’t do their job of supporting the lumbar spine. Core exercises are often started by activating your deep abdominal muscles, while lying on your back and your knees bent. As your lumbar spine stabilizes, you will be able to do more exercises.
Physical therapy may also include exercises to strengthen your leg muscles, particularly your glutes.
Spinal Stenosis Prevention
A physical therapist can help you avoid future spinal stenosis problems by:
- Keeping your spine mobile
- To support and stabilize your lumbar spine, strengthen your core.
- To keep your legs strong and balance, strengthen your leg muscles
With spinal stenosis, it is common for the condition to worsen over time. This can be due to decreased activity and weakening in the core muscles that support your low back. To prevent spinal stenosis symptoms from worsening, it is important to keep active and to strengthen your legs and lumbar spine.
Improve Your Quality of Life in our area
Physical therapy can improve your quality of life by decreasing pain, providing knowledge about how to correct posture and avoid movements that cause pain, and allowing you to complete daily activities that don’t put too much strain on your lower back. Contact our specialists in our area today for back pain relief and sciatica pain relief!