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Can physical therapy help treat spinal stenosis?

Physical therapy can be a successful treatment to relieve chronic pain from spinal stenosis. It can also help put you back on track for doing the things you love, like taking a morning walk, traveling, swinging a golf club or gardening. To get an overview of this condition, including the symptoms of spinal stenosis and the methods available for relief, read the following article.

Overview and symptoms of spinal stenosis

Stenosis is a constriction of the already narrow space the nerves travel through in the spine. This narrowing often occurs because of the normal deterioration of the spine as we age. Spinal stenosis only causes painful symptoms when a nerve in the spine becomes pinched or compressed. These are some of the most commonly reported symptoms related to the condition:

  • Radiating pain
  • Numbness
  • Weakness
  • Joint or muscle stiffness
  • Muscle spasms and cramping
  • Discomfort when leaning backward
  • Loss of balance

If you have received a diagnosis because of chronic pain, the first step in successful spinal stenosis treatment is usually to consult your doctor to develop a course of nonsurgical methods. In addition to treatments like pain medication and chiropractic care, physical therapy is a proven treatment option for many patients. For a high chance of lasting pain relief, make sure your physical therapist is a licensed professional, and continue to partner with your doctor throughout the whole process.

How physical therapy relieves symptoms

A physical therapist uses exercise and other techniques to strengthen specific supporting muscles that can relieve pressure on the source of pain. For spinal stenosis, physical therapy will mainly focus on core muscles, as well as posture correction. These are some of the activities you may do in a physical therapy appointment:

  • Deep tissue massage
  • Strengthening and stretching exercises
  • Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS)
  • Swimming, walking and bicycling
  • Yoga and Pilates

Conservative treatments, especially physical therapy, are shown to be highly effective in bringing relief from spinal stenosis pain. However, for some patients, several weeks or months of consistently pursuing these options does not bring enough relief to return to a normal activity level. If you are in this group, you may have begun considering spine surgery.

There may be situations in which patients need more relief than what physical therapy can provide them. In these cases, USA Spine Care offers minimally invasive procedures that have shorter recovery periods compared to open spine surgery and are also safer and effective alternatives.^ For a free MRI review* and to learn if you are a candidate for our procedures, reach out to USA Spine Care today.

To treat spinal stenosis, our board-certified+ surgeons use a small incision that is muscle sparing to remove part or all of the damaged disc that is compressing the nerve root and causing you pain and discomfort. To learn more about our outpatient surgery and find out how we can help you on the road to recovery, contact our dedicated team. We have performed more than 100,000 patient procedures since 2005 and we are confident that we can help you recapture your life from spinal stenosis.

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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