What Activities Should Be Avoided With Spinal Stenosis?
As a prevalent spinal condition, spinal stenosis impacts hundreds of thousands of people across the United States. This condition involves the narrowing of the spinal canal and triggers symptoms including persistent back pain.
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Unfortunately, spinal stenosis affects the activities and exercises that patients can safely partake in. But, that doesn’t mean that a spinal stenosis diagnosis will completely derail your physical activity.
Understanding which lumbar spinal stenosis activities to avoid can help patients recover from the condition while safely remaining active.
Spinal Stenosis Exercises to Avoid
Physicians often recommend certain forms of exercise for patients with spinal stenosis. Although it may seem counterintuitive while you’re struggling with spinal stenosis pain, low-impact exercise, stretching, and gentle motions can help alleviate symptoms.
In spinal stenosis patients, excessive bed rest can lead to worsened back pain. Patients’ posture while resting in bed tends to place added pressure on the spine, while long periods of rest can lead to muscle atrophy.
With that said, spinal stenosis patients should avoid certain forms of exercise. High-impact activities can worsen pain, inflammation, and neurological symptoms.
What Activities Should Be Avoided With Spinal Stenosis?
Specific activities that spinal stenosis patients should avoid include:
Running is a high-impact activity that causes repeated impacts on the spine. This can worsen back pain and neurological symptoms from spinal stenosis.
- Extended walks
While short walks are considered a good option for exercise with spinal stenosis, it’s wise to avoid prolonged walks. Due to muscle fatigue, long walks can increase the strain on your lumbar spine. This can lead to increased compression and pain.
- Contact sports
Contact sports like basketball, football, soccer, and martial arts are exercises to avoid with spinal stenosis. These activities can involve sudden trauma to the spine, which may lead to further injury.
Activities that involve jumping, such as jumping rope, should be avoided with spinal stenosis. When you jump, the spine quickly compresses and decompresses, potentially leading to added pain.
Additionally, your back muscles tighten when you jump to protect the spine. While this can help avoid additional damage to the spine, it can also lead to worsened back pain.
Rock climbing and related activities aren’t advisable for patients with spinal stenosis. Climbing can force your spine out of its proper alignment, and place excessive pressure on it.
- Deep back stretches
Back stretches that involve deep spinal extension or flexion aren’t beneficial for spinal stenosis patients. These stretches strain the spinal structures and can increase your pain levels.
Cycling in hilly areas or on the uneven ground should be avoided with spinal stenosis. Doing so may cause trauma to the spine, leading to exacerbated symptoms.
How Can You Prevent Your Spinal Stenosis From Getting Worse?
We’ve already mentioned that gentle, low-impact activity can help patients keep spinal stenosis symptoms in check. This, along with avoiding the activities above, is an important component of most spinal stenosis treatment plans.
Other ways to prevent the progression of spinal stenosis include:
- Practicing good posture
With good posture, the head is above the shoulders and the shoulders are aligned over the hips. This limits stress and compression on the spine.
- Maintaining a healthy weight
Excess weight places added pressure on the spine with every step that you take.
- Quitting smoking
The nicotine in cigarettes limits blood flow throughout your body. As a result, your spine will receive less of the oxygen and nutrients that it needs to heal.
- Following your physician’s recommendations
Making sure to abide by your physician’s recommendations, including what exercises to avoid with spinal stenosis, will help ensure that you make a full recovery.
When Can I Return To Sports After My Spinal Stenosis Diagnosis?
If you’re very active or an athlete, a spinal stenosis diagnosis can derail your day-to-day activities. Among active spinal stenosis patients, one of the most common questions is when they’ll get to return to their sports or exercise routines.
In truth, the amount of time that it takes to return to sports after a spinal stenosis diagnosis can vary from patient to patient. In mild to moderate cases of spinal stenosis that are diagnosed and treated promptly, patients may be able to return to sports after three to six months of treatment, including physical therapy.
Unfortunately, spinal stenosis isn’t a curable condition. So, patients will need to continue to care for their spines and check in with their physicians to keep spinal stenosis pain at bay. Patients should also remain mindful of spinal stenosis exercises to avoid.
For patients with more severe forms of spinal stenosis, conventional treatments may not be sufficient for pain relief. In these cases, surgery may be the only remaining option to restore spinal function and alleviate symptoms.
What is The Newest Treatment For Lumbar Spinal Stenosis?
In the past, spinal decompression surgery with spinal fusion was the only way to surgically resolve spinal stenosis. Now, medical advancements have led to new treatment options that can help patients avoid the downsides of spinal fusion, including limited mobility and an extensive recovery process.
Innovative non-fusion spinal implants are now being used more for cases of lumbar spinal stenosis that don’t respond to conventional treatments. This type of implant is used to replace the spinal structures that are removed during decompression surgery. The implant stabilizes the spine without fusing the affected vertebrae.
For spinal stenosis patients with active lifestyles, alternatives to spinal fusion are particularly beneficial. After all, by permanently fusing two or more vertebrae, spinal fusion can reduce or eliminate patients’ ability to partake in certain activities. By creating a controlled range of motion, non-fusion implants like the TOPS System can allow patients to return to various sports and activities.
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