What is spinal stenosis and what are the main characteristics?
Spinal stenosis is a condition that affects the spine and it is characterized by narrowing of certain area or areas, usually neck or lower part of the back. Since this results in increased pressure on the spinal cord or nerves, the symptoms that are most frequently experienced are pain, numbness, weakness and loss of sensation in the affected area. It is not uncommon that the person loses control over bladder or bowel functioning, or to completely lose sensation in the extremities, but it depends on the nerve which is affected. As for the reasons why spinal stenosis occurs in the first place, those that have been identified by now are age related conditions that result in degeneration of the disk, thickening of the ligaments, or bone spurs. Aside from these causes, spinal stenosis might be result of some genetic disorder, birth defect, injury or tumor.
What exercises are helpful for spinals stenosis?
Despite the fact that the treatment of this condition usually consists of medications that help in controlling the pain, or even antidepressants or anti-seizure drugs, if necessary, the truth is that physical therapy can be of huge help in cases of spinal stenosis. Physical therapist can introduce the patient with the exercises that improve the strengths and endurance, keep the spine flexible and stable, improve the balance and control the pain. Even though it might sounds unbelievable, the truth is that exercises can help with all this, but only if they are done in a right way.
- Curl ups are done while lying on the back with the knees slightly bent and arms near the body. The back needs to be flat on the floor, and then the person needs to lift the Head and shoulders off the floor until counting to five. It is recommended to repeat this 10 times.
- Prone trunk raises are done in a lying position, but while lying with the face down. From this position, the buttock muscles have to be tightened and then the Head and shoulders raised up as high as it feels comfortable. The positioned needs to be held for 5 seconds and the exercise repeated 10 times.
- Stretching the hamstring is done while lying on the back. One leg is raised as straight as it is possible and pulled towards the chest, while the hands are positioned behind the thighs. This position needs to be held for at least 15 seconds, and then repeated for the other leg. 3 repetitions for each side are enough.
Other recommended exercises are oblique trunk raises, alternating leg and arm lift, double knee to chest, standing backward bend, but it is necessary not to ignore the pain if it appears.