Can Spinal Stenosis Be Treated With Physiotherapy?
Narrowing of the spaces within the spine is a symptom of spinal stenosis, a condition that affects the spinal cord. This narrowing may put pressure on the spine-traveling nerves, causing pain, weakness, and numbness. Spinal stenosis symptoms may be reduced with the help of physical therapy, a non-invasive treatment option. In this blog post, we will examine the advantages of physiotherapy in the treatment of spinal stenosis as well as how it can enhance the quality of life for those with this condition.
Causes And Symptoms Of Spinal Stenosis
When the spinal canal narrows and compresses the spinal cord and nerves, it results in spinal stenosis, a common condition. Cervical and lumbar spinal stenosis, which both affect the neck and lower back, are the two main types of spinal stenosis. Alterations in the spine brought on by ageing, such as osteoarthritis and degenerative disc disease, are the most frequent causes of spinal stenosis. Other causes include spinal tumours, herniated discs, and spinal injuries.
Depending on the location and extent of the narrowing, there can be a wide range of spinal stenosis symptoms. Back pain, leg pain, numbness, tingling, and weakness in the legs are among the common symptoms of lumbar spinal stenosis. In extreme cases, it may cause inability to control one’s bladder or bowels as well as difficulty walking. Neck pain, arm pain, arm and hand weakness, and cervical spinal stenosis are all symptoms.
A physiotherapist can help manage the symptoms of spinal stenosis and improve your quality of life. If you experience any of these symptoms, it is important to seek medical attention to properly diagnose and treat the condition.
How Physiotherapy Can Help With Spinal Stenosis
Physiotherapy can be an effective treatment for spinal stenosis, especially in mild to moderate cases. The goal of physiotherapy is to alleviate pain, improve mobility, and prevent further damage to the spine. Here are some ways physiotherapy can help:
- Exercise Therapy: Exercise therapy is a vital component of physiotherapy for spinal stenosis. Specific exercises prescribed by a physiotherapist can help strengthen the muscles that support the spine, improve flexibility and range of motion, and reduce pain.
- Manual Therapy: Manual therapy involves hands-on techniques like massage, mobilisation, and manipulation to alleviate pain and stiffness in the affected area.
- Electrical Stimulation: Electrical stimulation can be used to reduce pain and improve muscle function in the affected area.
- Traction: Traction involves applying a pulling force to the spine to create space between the vertebrae, reducing pressure on the spinal nerves and alleviating pain.
- Posture Correction: Poor posture can worsen spinal stenosis symptoms. A physiotherapist can teach you proper posture techniques to reduce the strain on your spine.
- Education: A physiotherapist can educate you on how to manage your spinal stenosis symptoms, including tips on how to reduce pain and prevent further damage.
It’s important to note that physiotherapy is typically used as part of a broader treatment plan that may include medication, injections, or surgery, depending on the severity of the condition. If you’re experiencing symptoms of spinal stenosis, such as back pain or numbness in the arms or legs, consult with a physiotherapist or healthcare provider to determine the best course of treatment.
Non-Surgical Treatments For Spinal Stenosis
Non-surgical treatments for spinal stenosis are aimed at managing the symptoms and reducing the pressure on the spinal cord and nerves. These treatments can be highly effective and can help improve the quality of life of people with spinal stenosis.
- Physical Therapy: A physical therapist can create a customised exercise program to help alleviate pain and improve flexibility, strength, and balance. The program may include exercises to improve posture, flexibility, and stability.
- Medications: Over-the-counter pain relievers such as acetaminophen and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) may help relieve pain and reduce inflammation. For more severe pain, stronger prescription pain medications may be prescribed.
- Epidural Steroid Injections: Steroid injections into the affected area can help reduce inflammation and alleviate pain.
- Chiropractic Care: Chiropractic care can help reduce pressure on the spine and improve spinal alignment. This can help alleviate pain and other symptoms associated with spinal stenosis.
- Massage Therapy: Massage therapy can help improve circulation and reduce muscle tension, which can help alleviate pain associated with spinal stenosis.
- Acupuncture: Acupuncture involves the insertion of small needles into specific points on the body. This therapy can help alleviate pain and other symptoms associated with spinal stenosis.
- Assistive Devices: Assistive devices such as braces or a walker can help reduce pressure on the spine and improve mobility.
When Surgery Is Needed For Spinal Stenosis
When conservative treatments for spinal stenosis fail to provide relief, surgery may be recommended to alleviate the symptoms. The type of surgery recommended depends on the severity and location of the stenosis. The most common surgeries for spinal stenosis include laminectomy, laminotomy, and spinal fusion.
Laminectomy involves removing part of the vertebral bone to relieve pressure on the spinal cord and nerves. Laminotomy is similar to laminectomy, but only a small part of the vertebral bone is removed. Spinal fusion involves fusing two or more vertebrae together to stabilise the spine and reduce pressure on the nerves.
While surgery can be effective in relieving symptoms, it is not without risks. Complications such as infection, nerve damage, and spinal instability can occur. Therefore, it is important to discuss the risks and benefits of surgery with your healthcare provider before making a decision.
Importance Of Seeking Professional Help
Spinal stenosis is a complex medical condition that requires proper diagnosis and treatment. While physiotherapy can be effective in managing symptoms, it is crucial to seek professional help for an accurate diagnosis and personalised treatment plan.
A podiatrist, chiropractor or physiotherapist can perform a physical examination, review your medical history and imaging studies to determine the extent and location of the spinal stenosis. They can also identify any underlying conditions that may be contributing to the condition.
Additionally, a healthcare professional can provide guidance on lifestyle modifications to reduce the risk of aggravating the symptoms. They can also recommend specific exercises and techniques to improve posture, increase flexibility, and strengthen the affected areas.
Furthermore, a healthcare professional can monitor your progress and adjust the treatment plan as necessary. They can also provide additional treatments or refer you to a specialist if required.
In summary, seeking professional help is crucial when dealing with spinal stenosis. A podiatrist, chiropractor or physiotherapist can provide a proper diagnosis, personalised treatment plan, and ongoing monitoring to help you manage the condition effectively.
Spinal stenosis is a common condition that can cause discomfort and pain. While physiotherapy can help relieve some of the symptoms associated with this condition, it is important to seek professional help to determine the most appropriate treatment plan. Non-surgical treatments such as exercise, stretching, and pain management can often be effective in managing spinal stenosis, but in some cases, surgery may be necessary. If you are experiencing symptoms of spinal stenosis, consult a qualified healthcare professional for an accurate diagnosis and treatment plan.
At Upwell Health Collective, our team of podiatrists, physiotherapists, and healthcare professionals are dedicated to helping you manage and treat your spinal stenosis. We offer a range of non-surgical treatment options and work with you to develop a customised treatment plan to help you manage your symptoms and improve your quality of life. Contact us today to schedule a consultation and take the first step towards a healthier, pain-free life.