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.
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 ProcedureWhat to ExpectRecovery Times
Problems from anesthesia.
A deep infection in the surgical wound.
A skin infection.
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.
^Results are typical, but not guaranteed, each patients experience with spine surgery will differ.
For more information, visit usaspinecare.com/results. The information contained on this website is for educational purposes only, and is not intended to serve as a replacement for a medical diagnosis.
*Our MRI review is an informational review of the MRI report that you provide to us and is not a form of diagnosis. A diagnosis and a final determination of whether you may benefit from treatment at USA Spine Care can only be made after you have been physically examined by our medical professionals at USA Spine Care. The MRI review has no value and will not be billed.