First Steps to Treatment for Lumbar Spinal Stenosis

If you have been diagnosed with lumbar spinal stenosis, then you understand how the symptoms of low back pain and leg pain or tingling can affect your ability to walk.  Your symptoms may prevent you from enjoying everyday work or recreational activities.

If you have spinal stenosis, visit your doctor and your physical therapist.  Your doctor can provide you with an accurate diagnosis and treatment options, and your PT can start you on an appropriate exercise program to help eliminate your pain and improve your mobility.

With spinal stenosis, there are some things you should stop doing, but more importantly, there are some things you should start doing right away.  By treating your condition early and aggressively, you can improve your chances of managing your stenosis successfully.

Here is a list of things you should do right away to get started on your spinal stenosis treatment.  Check in with your doctor, see your physical therapist, and then start working to eliminate your lumbar spinal stenosis symptoms so you can get back to your normal activities.

1
Don't Panic

Photo of a woman looking anxious.
Spinal is a slow, progressive condition, so don't panic if your doctor gives you the diagnosis. Digital Vision- Getty Images

If you have been diagnosed with spinal stenosis, don't panic.  Stenosis sounds like a serious condition, but it really is a slow, progressive condition that may worsen over years, not days.

Performing the right treatment for your spinal stenosis can help you eliminate your pain and improve your mobility.  In fact, physical therapist for spinals stenosis has been shown to be equally effective as surgery for managing the disease.  So relax, don't panic, and get started on the right treatment path.

2
Get Exercising

Photo of an older man exercising.
Exercise can be beneficial for patients with spinal stenosis. Photo: Arthur Tilley/ Getty Images

 Although medication or surgery may be recommended for your spinal stenosis, you should work to slowly and progressively change the mechanical position of your spine.  This can help get pressure off of your spinal nerves and decrease your pain.

Don't be afraid to exercise with spinal stenosis.  Your physical therapist can help you find the right home exercise program to help you move better and feel better if you have spinal stenosis.

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3
Focus on Flexion Exercises, but Don't Ignore Extension

Photo of woman stretching her back on the couch.
Your PT can help you set up a home exercise program for lumbar spinal stenosis. PhotoAlto/Milena Boniek/Getty Images

Many experts recommend performing a flexion-based exercise program to treat spinal stenosis.  This helps to open up your spinal canal and take pressure off of your lumbar nerves.

But some people benefit from performing sustained lumbar extension for their stenosis.  This bending backwards position can gently push your spinal discs away from your nerves, giving them more room (and decreasing your pain).

Check in with your PT, try some lumbar extension, and see if it is helpful for your spinal stenosis. 

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4
Maintain Proper Posture

Woman with poor posture sitting at desk in chair
Sit with good posture to maintain spinal health. Diane Diederich/E+/Getty Images

Most spinal conditions benefit from attaining and maintain proper posture.  If you have spinal stenosis, work to maintain appropriate posture.  Performing the slouch-overcorrect exercise can help you learn where your posture should be to help keep pressure off your nerves. 

Bonus: 6 Ways to Maintain Proper Posture

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5
Improve Your Aerobic Fitness Level

Photo of active older couple riding bicycles.
Riding a bicycle can help you prepare for your total knee replacement surgery. Paul Bradbury/Getty Images

 Lumbar spinal stenosis is a slow, progressive condition that seems to come on gradually over time.  Many people slowly decrease their fitness activity while their symptoms are worsening - walking makes the pain worse, so people decrease their walking and mobility.  This can have a negative effect on your overall aerobic fitness levels.

If you have spinal stenosis, engaging in regular aerobic exercise can help you improve your fitness level and keep your mobility at a maximal level.  Riding a bicycle is often a good choice for people with spinal stenosis - the seated position gently flexes your spine and keeps pressure off of your spinal nerves.

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