As we get older, things start to fall apart. We develop aches and pains that we thought would only happen to other people. One of the most common is back pain caused by a condition known as spinal stenosis.
Spinal stenosis is a shift in the structure of the spine that occurs as we age. It may be caused by a thinning of the vertebral discs, a thickening of the ligaments adjacent to the vertebrae, an overgrowth of bone on the spinal joints, by injury, or a combination of any or all of these. Whatever the specific dynamic, the end result is that the spinal column that surrounds the spinal cord itself becomes narrower and the nerves that branch out from the spine become pinched and you feel pain, tingling, numbness.
So that’s the bad news. The good news is that a diagnosis of spinal stenosis does not sentence you to a lifetime of pain. Our spine surgery practice in New Jersey offers surgical options that can treat spinal stenosis, but it is our general practice to pursue lifestyle changes and other conservative approaches before turning to surgery. If you are experiencing spinal stenosis symptoms, these are some of the most beneficial methods of managing them:
Swimming and Aquatic Exercises
Any type of exercise that helps to strengthen the core muscles can alleviate spinal stenosis pain by helping to support the spine, but swimming and other water exercises are particularly helpful, as the buoyancy of the water eases pressure on the spine while the water’s resistance strengthens muscles.
Exercises That Involve Leaning Forward
Leaning forward helps to alleviate pressure on the spine, making them less likely to cause pain. Some good choices include cycling (outdoor or stationary); stair climbing or a step climbing machine; a treadmill set to an incline.
If you are not currently at a healthy weight, then losing would likely make a very big difference in your level of discomfort. The more extra weight you carry, the more pressure you put on your spine.
Turmeric is a popular spice that has anecdotally been shown to offer pain relief when taken as a supplement. There have been studies indicating that it is useful in the treatment of arthritis, which is often a contributing factor to spinal stenosis.
Physical therapy is one of the first treatments that we suggest for patients who come in to our spine pain practice in New Jersey. A robust physical therapy treatment plan can help to strengthen and stretch the muscles and ligaments that support the spine and can relieve pressure that contributes to pain. The exercises that the therapist employs during a session can generally be repeated at home.
Any and all of these approaches can make a real difference for those suffering with spinal stenosis. If you are uncertain as to whether the symptoms you are experiencing are caused by spinal stenosis, the best place to start is with a thorough examination by one of our spine specialists. Contact us today to set up a time to come in for an appointment.