Exercises for Spinal Stenosis

Spinal stenosis refers to the narrowing of space within the spinal canal and the foramen region, resulting in choking of the spinal cord, peripheral nerves and nerve roots. Spinal stenosis is caused by gradual degeneration of the spine with age. Chronic day to day wear and tear of the spine resulting from osteoarthritis of the spine (spondylosis), dehydration of the cushioning inter-vertebral discs and overgrowth of areas of the vertebral bone resulting in formation of bone spurs are some of the reasons for narrowing of the spinal canal resulting in spinal stenosis. This condition is more commonly seen in people over 50 year’s age and those with injuries to the spine.

Non-surgical treatment of spinal stenosis is usually effective with modification of activities, taking anti-inflammatory medications, wearing a brace around the back for some time and performing back exercises. Engaging in particular back exercises is in fact part of both non-surgical and surgical treatment plans in spinal stenosis due to the following reasons:

  • Exercise improves blood flow to your back, resulting in greater availability of oxygen and nutrients to the spine and its surroundings.
  • Since obesity increases strain on your spine, partaking in exercises will also help in attaining and maintaining a healthy weight.
  • Exercise also improves flexibility of core muscles in the arms, legs and back, thus reducing strain on the spine.

Ideal exercises for spinal stenosis should improve strength, stability, range of motion and endurance. Since there are a wide range of suitable exercises to select from, only those activities that won’t worsen the condition should be performed. Aside from this, choose those exercises that are effective in controlling pain and can be easily included in the patient’s routine and accessibility to equipment.

Your doctor may suggest a combination of exercises that include stretching exercises to hold the back muscles in extension (backwards bending) and strengthening exercises or flexion (forward bending) to increase the size of the spinal canal and reduce nerve irritation. Leaning forward over a walking stick, walker or a bike is more comfortable than walking straight for some patients. Low-impact exercises like swimming and water walking are also effective for other patients.

These exercises also improve posture and help the patient perform more activities with lower pain levels. However, you will first need to be evaluated by a medical specialist before partaking in any exercises. The Sita Bhateja Specialty Hospital in Bangalore has a highly-experienced team of spine specialists, neurologists and physiotherapists who can help get you back to enjoying your daily activities again. Find out more about them here: https://www.sbshospital.com/

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