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How To Manage the Terrible Back Pain Caused by Spinal Stenosis With Physical Therapy

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How To Manage the Terrible Back Pain Caused by Spinal Stenosis With Physical Therapy

Stenosis is the narrowing of an open space within your body. Spinal stenosis can refer to narrowing of your central spinal canal, which can put pressure on the spinal cord. There is also foraminal spinal stenosis, which can put pressure on the nerve roots that extend out from the cord. While some cases of spinal stenosis require surgery to treat, physical therapy Durham NC or other conservative measures may be just as effective.

Spinal Stenosis Symptoms

Spinal stenosis usually occurs in either your low back, which is called lumbar spinal stenosis, or your neck, also known as cervical spinal stenosis. It can cause symptoms of intense pain, which may feel like a burning sensation.

Lumbar spinal stenosis can cause numbness, tingling, or weakness in your legs, or bowel or bladder dysfunction. Cervical spinal stenosis can cause the same symptoms and also potentially affect your arms.

Physical Therapy Treatment

It is not unreasonable to ask yourself, “Where can I find physical therapy near me for spinal stenosis treatment?” Research has shown that the outcomes for patients with spinal stenosis are often just as good with physical therapy as they are with surgery, and physical therapy offers fewer risks of complications.

The primary goal of physical therapy for spinal stenosis is to relieve pressure on your spinal cord or nerve roots. Poor posture may contribute to the problem, so your therapist may perform postural education to help you stand and sit more ergonomically. You may also learn exercises to strengthen the muscles of your back so that they support the vertebrae more effectively.

Another goal of physical therapy is to improve functionality. Your therapist may mobilize stiff joints in your back by moving them manually. You may also use rehabilitation equipment designed to take the pressure off your nerves while walking. A treadmill with a harness attached is one example of such equipment. Your therapist has the necessary equipment and performs these treatments right in the physical therapy clinic.

Other Conservative Treatments

While surgery can be effective at treating spinal stenosis, there are risks involved. Your doctor may want to try conservative, i.e., nonsurgical, treatments first, saving surgery as a last resort.

Doctors often prescribe medications to treat spinal stenosis. At one time, it was common to prescribe opioid painkillers. However, these carry their own risks of addiction and don’t address the underlying problem. Your doctor may prescribe something else, such as gabapentin, which can relieve pain from irritated nerves. NSAIDs, which reduce inflammation, may also be helpful.

If your abdominal muscles are weak, or if you have degenerative changes at multiple levels of your spine, your doctor may prescribe a back brace for support.

Doctors sometimes also give injections of corticosteroids to relieve inflammation that may be contributing to foraminal stenosis. However, it is not clear whether these shots are effective, with some studies showing that injections containing steroids are no more effective than injections of numbing agents alone. Repeated steroid injections also carry risks of side effects.

When you work with a fully trained and licensed physical therapist, there is little risk of adverse effects from physical therapy. Many patients find relief from spinal stenosis symptoms with physical therapy and don’t need to have surgery.