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Spinal stenosis exercises

Spinal stenosis exercises are designed to improve your strength, range of motion and flexibility, which may help to reduce debilitating symptoms of pain, numbness, stiffness or tingling. There are a variety of recommended exercises, however, so it’s important to research your options and choose a plan that will provide the most benefit.

If you have been diagnosed with spinal stenosis — or if you suspect that you have spinal stenosis or another degenerative spinal condition — work with your doctor to create an exercise program to treat your pain. Strenuous movement can possibly make symptoms worse, so partnering with a medical professional is the safest choice. This is because avoiding activity altogether can also worsen spinal stenosis symptoms, so professional guidance can be helpful to find the middle ground.

The best exercise choices for stenosis

Exercises or physical therapy aimed at reducing the symptoms of spinal stenosis include:

  • Low-impact aerobic exercises, like walking, swimming, bicycling or water aerobics
  • Yoga, which involves stretching, balancing, breathing and relaxing
  • Physical therapy exercises specifically designed to stretch and strengthen the affected region

Low-impact spinal stenosis exercises are often recommended because they involve smoother motion compared to a higher-impact exercise, like running, which could cause further injury to the spinal column. Swimming, bicycling and walking put less force on the joints of your neck and back while strengthening muscles and connective tissue. You can also improve your cardiovascular system, which is good for your heart, lungs and weight.

For cases of mild or even moderate spinal stenosis, these exercises — combined with other physician-prescribed conservative treatments like over-the-counter medications, hot/cold therapy and wearing a brace — are highly effective at reducing chronic pain. In fact, many patients find lasting relief, and a return to a normal quality of life, without needing to pursue surgery.

If exercise therapy is not effective

If you have moderate to severe spinal stenosis and pain is still keeping you away from loved ones, work and hobbies, despite completing rounds of conservative treatments like exercise, then your physician may recommend surgery. Surgery is sometimes necessary to remove material such as bone spurs or disc material that is narrowing the spinal canal and compressing nerves.

For more details about spinal stenosis and what exercises and treatments may be right for you, visit our spinal stenosis treatments page. If exercises and other conservative treatments do not alleviate your spinal stenosis symptoms and your physician wants you to consider open back surgery, you also can consider the minimally invasive procedures offered by USA Spine Care as a safer and effective alternative. Contact USA Spine Care today for a no-cost review* of your MRI. We will be happy to discuss your condition and whether you are a candidate for our procedures.

Learn more today

If you're living with spinal stenosis in the upper spine and searching for relief, reach out to USA Spine Care for help. Our multidisciplinary team is dedicated to helping people develop the right care plan to  reach treatment goals and achieve lasting relief.

Contact us today to learn more. Call toll free 1-866-249-1627.

Spinal Stenosis "Quick Answers"

Depending on the region and severity Spinal stenosis feels like tingling, burning and/or weakness in the hands, arms, neck, lower back or legs. It may also feel like a radiating pain or shooting shock-like pain. Read more in the links below: Spinal Stenosis Spinal Stenosis Overview Defining Spinal Stenosis Researching Spinal Stenosis Learning About Back Stenosis Spinal Stenosis Pathophysiology
The types of spinal stenosis are region based and consist of cervical (neck), thoracic (mid back) and lumbar or lower back. In addition, foraminal stenosis is the narrowing of the foramen. Read more in the links below: Spinal Stenosis of the Neck Cervical Stenosis - Basic Facts Neck Stenosis Causes Neck Stenosis Treatment Central Canal Stenosis Lumbar Spinal Stenosis Spinal Stenosis in the Back
Spinal Stenosis is the narrowing of the spinal canal. This condition, most often located in the Lumbar spine, may be caused by degeneration of the spine, wear and tear, sports injury, & collapsing discs. Read more in the links below. What Causes Spinal Stenosis? Obesity May Lead to a Stenosis Diagnosis Age and its Role in the Development of Spinal Stenosis Spinal Stenosis Causes Identifying Common Causes From Birth Defects to Getting Older Degenerative Conditions Car Accident Injuries
The symptoms of spinal stenosis include tingling or numbness in the extremities, pain and weakness in the neck, back and/or legs. In severe cases bladder, bowel dysfunction/continence. Learn more in the links below: What Are the Symptoms of Spinal Stenosis? Spinal Stenosis Symptoms Spinal Stenosis Diagnosis What Should I Do If I Think I Have Spinal Stenosis? Spinal Stenosis and Hand Pain Recognizing Spinal Stenosis Have You Been Diagnosed? About Your Diagnosis Diagnostic Process Helping Your Physician How a Diagnosis Is Made Arriving at a Diagnosis
Physician specialties that treat spinal stenosis include: Pain management & rehabilitation physicians, spine surgeons, orthopedic specialists & neurosurgeons. Read more about these specialties in the links below: Doctors Who Treat Spinal Stenosis Spinal Decompression Doctors
Patients can expect recovery to last 4-6 weeks in most cases (depending on the complexity of your condition). People who choose minimally invasive spine surgery recover faster and get back to work sooner than those who choose open back surgery. Read more in the links below: Recovery After a Procedure What to Expect Recovery Times

  • Problems from anesthesia.
  • A deep infection in the surgical wound.
  • A skin infection.
  • Blood clots.
  • Nerve injury, including weakness, numbness, or paralysis.
  • Tears in the fibrous tissue that covers the spinal cord and the nerve near the spinal cord. These tears may require more surgery.
  • Trouble passing urine, or loss of bladder or bowel control.
  • Long-term (chronic) pain, which happens after surgery in some cases.
  • The chance that the surgery won't relieve your symptoms. And even if you get better with surgery, there is a chance that you may get new symptoms in the future.
  • Death from problems caused by surgery, but this is rare.

Read more in the links below: Overview of Risk Factors Most Common Risk Factors Obesity & Spinal Stenosis Spinal Stenosis & Arthritis Treating Elderly Patients

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