Your vertebral colum has a space through the middle for the spinal cord to run through. Spinal stenosis is a narrowing of this space, called the spinal canal. It is most often caused by osteoarthritis in the back and typically occurs in people over 50. Any portion of the spine can be affected, but it most often occurs in the lower back, also known as the lumbar region. While there is no cure for spinal stenosis, physical therapy in Edmond, OK, may help to relieve symptoms.
Physical Therapy Treatment
When a part of your body is in pain, your instinct is to avoid moving it. For some conditions, this can be helpful in the short term, but with spinal stenosis, it is likely to do more harm than good in the long run. Not moving the muscles in the back can cause them to become stiff, making motion more uncomfortable. Prolonged inactivity can cause the muscles in the back to become weaker, which actually worsens the pain of spinal stenosis.
Exercise can be helpful, but it is important not to overdo it or you could injure yourself further. Physical therapy can teach you safe exercises to do that can benefit you without further injury to your back. Stabilization exercises help to strengthen the muscles of your back so that they can support your spine more effectively. Stretching exercises can help your spine to become more flexible, helping you to move and hold it in positions that are more ergonomic and less likely to cause you pain.
A regular exercise routine can help you lose weight and improve your overall fitness level. This can have an indirect effect on your pain. Since spinal stenosis results from wear and tear on the bones of your spine, losing weight can help relieve some of the pressure.
Other Conservative Treatments
Physical therapy is only one of many back pain treatments that may help treat spinal stenosis. Because of the risks involved with spinal surgery, doctors typically recommend nonsurgical treatments first. It is only after attempting conservative treatments that ultimately prove unsuccessful that doctors recommend surgery to treat spinal stenosis. Physical therapy may be used in combination with any of the following treatment options.
- Medications: Doctors may recommend over-the-counter pain relievers, such as Tylenol or ibuprofen in the short term. For severe pain, doctors may prescribe opioid pain relievers. Anti-seizure drugs that reduce the effects of damaged nerves and antidepressants may also help to relieve chronic back pain. Medications are recommended with caution due to the risk of addiction and other adverse side effects.
- Steroid Injections: Epidural steroid injections around the nerve roots should provide several months’ relief, but they can weaken connective tissues if repeated too often.
- Percutaneous Image-Guided Lumbar Decompression: This is a procedure that does not require general anesthesia and carries less risk than full surgery would. It involves removing a portion of a thickened ligament with needle-like instruments to widen the spinal canal.
Seek help for back pain from one of the best physical therapists near Oklahoma City.