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Physical therapy for spinal stenosis

What is spinal stenosis?

A common cause of neck and lower back pain, spinal stenosis occurs when the space around the nerve roots of the spine becomes compressed. This puts pressure on the nerves that travel through the spine, causing pain, tingling, numbness, and muscle weakness over time.

Spinal stenosis can occur either in the neck or in the lower back. When the spinal narrowing occurs in the neck, it’s called cervical stenosis, and discomfort occurs in the neck as well. Spinal narrowing in the lower back, which causes pain in the lower back and legs, is called lumbar stenosis. Lumbar stenosis is the most common form of spinal stenosis.

Source: Mayo Clinic

Spinal stenosis symptoms

It’s not unusual for an MRI scan to reveal evidence of spinal stenosis even when the patient is not presenting with symptoms, which tend to develop slowly and worsen over time. When symptoms do emerge, they vary depending on the location of the spinal stenosis and which nerves are most directly affected.

Symptoms of cervical stenosis include neck pain, difficulty walking or balancing, weakness, numbness, or tingling in a hand, arm, foot or leg. In some severe cases, patients may experience bowel or bladder dysfunction. Symptoms of lumbar spine stenosis include weakness, numbness, or tingling in a foot or leg, pain in one or both legs when walking or standing, and back pain.

The most common symptoms of spinal stenosis include:

  • Neck or back pain
  • Weakness, numbness, or tingling in a hand, arm, foot, or leg
  • Difficulty or pain when walking

Source: Mayo Clinic

What causes spinal stenosis?

Spinal stenosis is most commonly caused by aging. As the body ages, tissues and bones begin to degenerate, resulting in nerve compression. Conditions like osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis, both common in older patients, can also contribute to the development of spinal stenosis.

When spinal stenosis appears in younger patients, it’s usually the result of a spine defect, a naturally narrow spinal cord, scoliosis, or bone tumors. Patients with these conditions are at an increased risk of developing spinal stenosis.

The most common causes of spinal stenosis include:

  • Age
  • Ostheoarthritis
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Scoliosis
  • Narrow spine

Source: Mayo Clinic

Physical therapy for spinal stenosis

Physical therapy for spinal stenosis involves a combination of manual therapy, postural education, and exercises. The goal of spinal stenosis PT is to reduce discomfort and help the patient return to normal daily activities. Manual therapy and postural education can both help to alleviate pain, while exercises improve mobility.

Common exercises for spinal stenosis include abdomen strengthening exercises, gentle stretching, range-of-motion exercises, and low-impact aerobic exercise. While each patient is different, general trends show that patients who engage in more exercise tend to have quicker recovery times.

Source: Move Forward

The best spinal stenosis physical therapists in
the San Francisco Bay Area and Los Angeles

Luna’s physical therapists are experts in the treatment of both lumbar and cervical spinal stenosis. With experience in manual therapy techniques and guided exercises, our licensed PTs will work with you to create a therapy plan that alleviates spinal stenosis symptoms and improves mobility.

Luna’s skilled team of physical therapists treat a range of common conditions, including spinal stenosis. Best of all, Luna delivers PT to patients whenever they like and wherever it’s most convenient — at home, at the gym, or in the conference room of their office. It’s physical therapy, delivered.

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