Can Spinal Stenosis Be Prevented?

Has back pain slowed you down? Perhaps you’re not able to enjoy activities you normally have engaged in, like dancing or gardening. You may be experiencing the onset of spinal stenosis. 

What is spinal stenosis?

If you have pain, lack of feeling, or muscle weakness in the lower back or neck, you may have spinal stenosis. The condition results when your spinal canal, which contains your spinal cord and nerves, becomes too narrow. The spinal cord and nerves are pushed against each other. The excess pressure on the nerves leads to your symptoms. 

Your team at Apollo Pain Management in Sun City Center, Florida, consists of specialists in treating musculoskeletal pain, including pain from spinal stenosis, as well as focusing on wellness and prevention. 

Why does the spinal canal become abnormally narrow?

Osteoarthritis is usually the culprit behind spinal stenosis. As you age, you can develop arthritis in your joints, and in the case of your back, in the discs between each vertebra in your spine. Bulging discs can also cause spinal stenosis, as can stiff, thick ligaments that push into the spinal canal. Scoliosis can also lead to stenosis. 

If you make no changes to your lifestyle and you have spinal stenosis, your symptoms are likely to become worse. Advanced cases make walking painful and difficult. 

Strategies to help prevent spinal stenosis

Following are proven strategies to help prevent this debilitating condition and lessen its impact if you have it. 

Appropriate exercise: strengthening and stretching muscles 

Strengthening the muscles and ligaments supporting your spine and stretching them to help maintain your flexibility are two important facets of exercise that can help prevent stenosis. 

Exercise such as walking 30 minutes a day with good posture is a great way to keep your spine in shape. If walking is difficult for you, water aerobics is a great alternative. The adage, “use it or lose it” is true as you age. 

Stretching helps keep your muscles flexible. You need flexibility to keep the normal range of motion in your joints. If you already have spinal stenosis, you may have trouble with gaining the full range of motion in your back. Think about daily activities such as putting on a coat or reaching down to put on your socks and shoes. You need to be able to bend, twist, and reach. Without regular stretching, your muscles tighten up and get shorter. Then you can’t extend an arm or a leg all the way when needed. 

Yoga helps stretch your muscles, as does resistance training. See if your community has “gentle” yoga classes if you’re just starting, or senior yoga or a senior exercise class if you’re retirement age. Your Apollo Pain Management team recommends appropriate exercise tailored to your age and needs. 

Good posture 

Poor posture can contribute to spinal degeneration. Does your abdomen stick out while your back is caved in when you walk? This “swayback” posture harms your spinal cord. Are your shoulders hunched forward with your chin sticking out? They shouldn’t be. Your shoulders should be level and your chin tucked in a bit. Your hips should be in alignment with your ankles. 

Your Apollo Pain Management team provides feedback on your posture and, if necessary, refers you to a physical therapist. Your body needs retraining if you don’t have good posture. 

Good body mechanics 

Body mechanics involve how you move your body during everyday activities. One common mistake is bending and twisting your body at the same time — for example, twisting and then bending over to reach a file in the file cabinet next to your desk. This combined movement places too much pressure on the joints and discs in your spinal cord. Instead, first turn your body toward the cabinet and then reach for the file. 

Another common mistake is bending at the waist to pick up a box and then turning at the waist to put it down. Instead of bending over and reaching to pick an item off the floor, do a short squat while keeping your back straight. Use the muscles in your legs to hold yourself up. If you have to turn around with the box, pivot with your feet to turn to the side instead of twisting your spinal cord to put the box down. 

Ask your physician for a referral to Apollo Pain Management to gain the pain relief you’re seeking. You don’t have to suffer with chronic back pain. We’re here to help.

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