Lumbar Spinal Stenosis: What It Is and How Physical Therapy Can Help

You suffer from lower back pain and may have difficulty walking. You may also have tingling and weakness and even occasional bowel or bladder problems. After being examined by your doctor and getting an imaging test as X-ray or CT scan, you find out that you have lumbar spinal stenosis.

Lumbar Spinal Stenosis: What It Is and How Physical Therapy Can Help

What Is Lumbar Spinal Stenosis?

Your lower back is the location of the lumbar spine. It consists of five vertebrae in the lower spine. Lumbar spinal stenosis is diagnosed when there is a narrowing of the spinal canal, which compresses the nerves that travel through the lower back and reach into the legs. This compression is the cause of your lower back pain. While younger people may be affected by this condition, people over 60 are much more likely to suffer from this problem. The aging process, osteoarthritis, bone spurs and spinal injuries all can contribute to lumbar spinal stenosis.

Physical Therapy for Better Results than Surgery

You and your doctor may agree that surgery is not the best option for your condition. Instead your doctor may recommend physical therapy, which is a safe and effective treatment for lower back pain in general and for lumbar spinal stenosis in particular.

Your first appointment with a physical therapist will focus on a thorough evaluation to ensure that you receive treatment that is right for you. The evaluation usually includes screening tools such as: questions about your pain and other symptoms, tests for muscle strength and sensation, an examination of posture and measurements of range of motion, among others.

How Physical Therapy Can Help You with Lumbar Spinal Stenosis

A individualized treatment program created by your physical therapist plays a key part in feeling better and getting back to your regular daily activities. This program may include:

  • Gentle aerobic conditioning to alleviate pain and increase tolerance for walking
  • Flexibility and range-of-motion exercises to improve mobility, which may also relieve pain
  • Strengthening exercises
  • Manual therapy such as massage to release tight muscles
  • Education to improve posture.

Your physical therapist will monitor your progress to determine how long you need to continue with the program.

By understanding what lumbar stenosis is and how physical therapy can help, you are one step closer to returning to your daily activities with more ease and less lower back pain. Contact us to get moving again!