Why Space Matters… In Your Spine
You may know that physical therapy helps in the treatment of low back pain but did you also know that physical therapy can help treat conditions such as spinal stenosis? Spinal stenosis is a condition in which the space surrounding the spinal cord is reduced, leading to increased pressure on the spinal cord and its network of nerves Early signs of spinal stenosis often appear on an x-ray, even though no other symptoms are present.
The symptoms begin with an occasional twinge or pain in the neck and spine. As the condition progresses, patients experience increased pain, numbness and muscle weakness. Bowel function and incontinence may also occur.
While some individuals are born with smaller spinal canals, there are many factors that can lead to spinal stenosis. Trauma and injury to the spine, thickened ligaments, herniated discs, tumors and the growth of bone spurs can narrow the available space in the canal. It typically affects patients over the age of 50, but is considered a genetic disease when it affects younger people. As a general rule, persistent pain, numbness or weakness in the back, arms or legs should be reported to a physician or physical therapist as quickly as possible.
Three Key Benefits of Physical Therapy
Left untreated, spinal stenosis can progress and lead to severe limitations ranging from incontinence to possibly paralysis. Surgery may be required. Physical therapy helps in recovery and rehabilitation following surgery.
In fact, therapy can be a stand-alone treatment without surgery. The three main advantages of therapy in spinal stenosis include:
Release of pressure in the spinal canal – Exercise under the supervision of the physical therapist is the key to relieving pressure in the spinal canal. Physical Therapy includes customized stretching and exercise programs to relieve pain, maintain flexibility and strengthen the body. All patients learn optimal ways to maintain movement and relieve joint stress.