Spinal Stenosis: Self-Care Rules
If you’ve been diagnosed with spinal stenosis, self-care should be prioritized as part of your recovery. While it’s crucial to visit a physician for a treatment plan, much of the healing process will rely on your own recovery efforts.
Self-care for spinal stenosis involves paying close attention to your symptoms, following your physician’s recommendations, and working to improve your health. Read on to learn more about our spinal stenosis self-care tips.
How Do You Stop Stenosis From Progressing?
To stop stenosis from progressing, it’s crucial to follow all of your physician’s recommendations and treatment suggestions. For most patients, these recommendations include:
- Maintaining good posture
Maintaining good posture is an excellent self-care strategy for spinal stenosis. Proper posture keeps the spine in alignment, which reduces the strain on the spinal structures. It can also help lessen nerve compression, which is a key issue for patients with spinal stenosis.
- Avoiding high-impact activities
High-impact activities like running, weightlifting, and contact sports, as well as activities that involve excessive spinal extension, can worsen spinal stenosis. Avoiding these activities can help prevent further injury to the spine.
- Practicing healthy body mechanics
Similar to good posture, proper body mechanics help minimize the impact on the spine with day-to-day motion. With healthy body mechanics, the spine is in a neutral position when you stand, walk, and exercise.
- Staying active
Although it’s important to avoid high-impact physical activity with spinal stenosis, don’t write off exercise altogether. Staying active helps with the spinal stenosis healing process by promoting circulation, maintaining muscle strength, and preventing loss of mobility.
- Attending physical therapy
Physical therapy is considered a crucial component of spinal stenosis treatment. Typically, physical therapists recommend a personalized set of exercises to strengthen the abdominal muscles, as well as stretches to improve mobility. Your PT may also recommend passive therapies, such as electrical stimulation, massage therapy, and acupuncture.
- Taking breaks from sitting
If you work at a desk, you likely spend most of your day sitting down. Unfortunately, prolonged periods of sitting can be damaging to the spinal discs and back muscles.
To care for your spine, try the “20-8-2” rule. This guideline recommends that people sit for 20 minutes, stand for eight minutes, and move around for two minutes. Then, repeat.
While this rule will likely need to be adjusted to fit your needs, it’s a great place to start for spinal stenosis patients.
- Prioritizing sleep
If you’re suffering from spinal stenosis or another spinal disorder, high-quality sleep is crucial. The deep stages of sleep increase circulation to the muscles, promote stress relief, and help reduce inflammation.
Unfortunately, back pain from spinal stenosis can make it difficult to fall asleep at night. Many people find that the best sleep position for spinal stenosis is the fetal position. Additionally, investing in a top-caliber mattress, such as a latex or memory foam mattress, may help you fall asleep with spinal stenosis pain.
How Can I Help Myself With Spinal Stenosis?
To help yourself with spinal stenosis, follow the tips provided above to stop the condition’s progression. These tips, including staying active, improving your posture, and preventing activities that stress the spine will help your body heal from spinal stenosis. Additionally, curbing the progression of this spinal condition may help you avoid invasive treatments in the future.
Does Lying Down Help Spinal Stenosis?
Lying down may help reduce spinal stenosis symptoms in some patients. Most patients find that the best sleeping position for spinal stenosis is lying on the side of the body with the knees curled towards the chest in a fetal position.
Though lying down can lessen spinal stenosis pain, it’s crucial to avoid staying in one position, whether it be lying down, sitting, or standing, for too long. Except for when you’re sleeping, of course, remaining in one position for an extended period can lead to muscle tension and increased pain.
Is a Heating Pad Good for Spinal Stenosis?
A heating pad is good for spinal stenosis, especially if you’re experiencing muscle tension and tightness from the condition. Heat therapy promotes muscle relaxation and boosts circulation to the area. Circulation improves the flow of healing nutrients and oxygen to the injured spinal tissue, which promotes healing.
What is The Best Vitamin For Spinal Stenosis?
The best vitamins for spinal stenosis include vitamin B12, vitamin B9, vitamin C, vitamin D, magnesium, and omega-3 fatty acids. Vitamin supplementation can be used as part of your spinal stenosis self-care strategy, but check with your physician before starting any new supplement.
- Vitamin B12
Vitamin B12 helps the body’s nervous system function properly. This makes it a valuable supplement for anyone suffering from neurological symptoms, including weakness, tingling, and numbness that can be caused by spinal stenosis.
In a study published in the European Spine Journal, 72% of patients with spinal disorders reported improved symptoms after vitamin B12 supplementation.
- Vitamin B9
Vitamin B9 (also known as folate or folic acid) is another B vitamin. As with all B vitamins, folate promotes a healthy nervous system and helps the body turn carbohydrates into glucose for energy.
In a 2010 study funded by the NIH, researchers discovered that folate promoted healing in damaged spinal cord tissue in rats. These results indicate that folate supplementation may assist the healing process in patients with nerve-related injuries, such as nerve impingement caused by spinal stenosis.
- Vitamin C
Vitamin C plays a few critical roles in healing and recovery. For one, the body needs vitamin C to produce specific neurotransmitters, as well as collagen and L-carnitine. It’s also a key part of connective tissue, which is essential for wound healing.
Additionally, with powerful antioxidant properties, vitamin C can help fight free radical damage and cell death. This can be especially helpful for patients who are recovering from spinal stenosis surgery.
- Vitamin D
Osteoporosis is a key risk factor for spinal stenosis and other spinal injuries. Vitamin D can help ward off osteoporosis because it helps the body absorb calcium.
Sun exposure is one of the best methods of vitamin D supplementation. But, people who don’t consistently spend time in the sun can consider supplements or foods that are rich in vitamin D, such as egg yolks and fatty fish.
Magnesium is an essential nutrient that plays several different roles in the body. It supports muscle function, nerve function, and energy production. Magnesium has also been found to provide neuroprotective benefits, suggesting that it may help prevent nerve damage in spinal stenosis patients.
- Omega-3 Fatty Acids
A specific omega-3 fatty acid known as docosahexaenoic acid, or DHA, can be a helpful supplement for spinal stenosis patients. As the brain’s main fatty acid, DHT is crucial for central nervous system function and helps regulate cell membrane receptor activity.
Additionally, a 2019 study found that omega-3 fatty acid supplementation may help protect against the progression of spinal disc degeneration. So, omega-3 fatty acid supplements may help patients with degenerative spinal stenosis avoid further damage to the spine.
If at-home therapies fail to improve your spinal stenosis symptoms, visit a specialist in your area to learn about the available treatment options, such as the TOPS System from Premia Spine.