Understanding spinal stenosis conditions begins with the definition of spinal stenosis. Stenosis is a Greek word that means “narrowing or constricting space”. Spinal stenosis occurs in the spinal column where the spinal cord, nerve roots and vertebrae are located. Simply stated, spinal stenosis is the constricting or narrowing of the spinal canal.There are two types of spinal stenosis; they are lumbar spinal stenosis and cervical spinal stenosis. The lumbar region is the lower part of the spine and is the most common area where spinal stenosis occurs. Cervical spinal stenosis resides in the neck region of the spine. While different in name and location both types of spinal stenosis affect the body in a similar manner.Spinal stenosis is either acquired or inherited. Those who inherit spinal stenosis, by nature, have a small spinal canal. On the other hand, when spinal stenosis is acquired, in most cases it begins slowly and develops over years. As time passes the space between the nerve roots, spinal cord and vertebrae is reduced. Typically, the narrowing of the spinal canal is a result of abnormal bone or tissue growth (sometimes both).Spinal stenosis can cause many symptoms. Experiencing pain, tingling or numbness in the neck, shoulders or arms, especially if it is felt only on one side, is a symptom of spinal stenosis. Pain, weakness or numbness in the back of the leg or buttocks area is another symptom that may be caused by pressure on the sciatic nerve. Other symptoms of spinal stenosis include problems maintaining balance or control of urinary and bowel movements.A good physical therapist may prescribe some of the following exercises to improve the conditions of spinal stenosis. Note: Be sure to check with your physician before starting any new exercise program.
Modified Crunch/Rotation Crunches: Lie face up on an exercise mat with your knees bent and your feet on the floor. Lift your legs into the air if you have to but make sure your lower back is flat against the mat. Leave your arms on the floor but keep them relaxed. Crunch up just enough to lift your shoulders off the mat. Hold for three to five seconds. Do 10 to 12 repetitions. After you have done a set of crunches, do another 10 to 12 reps per side with rotation. Do this by twisting your shoulders at the top of the crunch and reaching with your arm for your opposite knee.
Cobra: Lie face down with your arms at your sides. Squeeze your gluts (gluteal muscles of the buttocks) and abs (abdominal muscles), but keep your legs relaxed on the floor. Lift your upper body a few inches off the floor and hold for three to five seconds. Do a total of 10 to 12 reps. Do not lift high enough to cause pain.
Opposite Arm/Leg Lift: Lie face down on an exercise mat with your arms stretched overhead. Lift your right arm and your left leg. Hold for three to five seconds. Lower your arm and leg. Now, lift your left arm and your right leg. Hold. Continue to alternate until you have done 10 lifts on each side.