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Spinal Stenosis

What is Spinal Stenosis?

Spinal stenosis is a narrowing of spaces in the spine that results in pressure on the spinal cord and/or nerve roots. It is most common in the low back (lumbar stenosis) and neck (cervical stenosis), although your neck or back may not hurt. More often, people experience numbness, weakness, or pain in the arms or legs. Spinal stenosis is most common in people over 50, although it can occur in younger people who have sustained an injury to the spine or who are born with a narrowing of the spinal canal.

Spinal Stenosis Symptoms

Lumbar stenosis symptoms may include general leg pain, typically increasing with walking; pain which radiates from the lower back into the buttocks or leg; leg weakness; and/or tingling or numbness. Generally, patients with lumbar stenosis are comfortable sitting, but standing upright further decreases the space available for the nerve roots. Cervical stenosis symptoms may include stiffness, pain, numbness, or weakness in the neck, shoulders, arms, or hands.

What will physical therapy entail?

Your Shift physical therapist will design a program specifically for you, taking into account your normal level of activity, physical fitness, and severity of pain. Physical therapy will include exercises to maintain motion of the spine, strengthen abdominal and back muscles, and build endurance. At Shift, your treatment may incorporate Yoga or Pilates exercises.
Your treatment may also include manual therapy to improve the mobility of stiff joints that may be contributing to your symptoms. Posture education can help you learn to relieve pressure on the nerves by making simple changes in how you stand, walk, and sit. Other treatments, such as ice or electrical stimulation, may be used for pain that is severe and not relieved by exercise or manual therapy.