Back Pain Defined: Part 3
So far, we’ve discussed the 2 most common back pain diagnoses in depth. The first one was Disc Herniation with Sciatica and the second was Sacroiliac Joint Dysfunction. If you have pain in your back that radiates down one of your legs or pain in your pelvis, then you should take a look back at those posts. Today we will focus on the 3rd most common cause for back pain, Stenosis, or arthritis of the spine.
3 Main Causes of Back Pain:
- Disc Herniation, or disc bulge. Referred to by non-medical professionals as “slipped disc”
- Sacroiliac (SI) Joint Dysfunction, or problems in the pelvis
- Stenosis, or arthritis of the spine
Spinal Stenosis occurs when there is a narrowing of the holes through which the spinal cord and nerves pass, and this narrowing causes impingement or pressure on the nerves. The difference between stenosis and a disc bulge is that spinal stenosis is a diagnosis associated with aging and wear-and-tear of the spine vs. bending/lifting/twisting trauma. Most people with stenosis are over the age of 50. Also, stenosis is a boney infringement on nerves vs a soft tissue one, making it harder to fix. Functionally, a differentiating factor between stenosis and a disc bulge is that people with stenosis tend to feel better sitting or standing in a hunched forward position. This relieves the pressure that the bones are putting on the nerves and, therefore, decreases symptoms. Common symptoms related to stenosis are low back pain and pain, cramping, weakness, numbness, and tingling in either one, or both legs.
3 Exercises to Relieve Back Pain / Stenosis Pain
Spinal stenosis is a little trickier to treat than the other 2 diagnoses. You can’t stop the aging process; it is a part of life and, unfortunately, some people have more of a propensity for osteoarthritis than others. What is possible, though, is regaining mobility in the spine and decreasing pain in the legs with mobilization, stretching, and functional movement.
Physical therapists understand how to safely move the body of someone with stenosis, without causing an increase in pain and irritation. Treating stenosis is really about maintenance of the mobility and space that remains in your spine in order to delay further progression of immobility. Occasionally people do opt for surgical intervention to remove excess bone from the nerve impingement site. If conservative management is not successful, pharmaceutical or surgical intervention are likely necessary to maintain a good quality of life.
I’ve attached some images below of a few exercises that may give you relief while you seek out further treatment. If you have any of the symptoms I discussed in this post, we would be happy to take care of you at MoveMend. Please call us at 206-641-7733 or schedule your first Physical Therapy appointment online at here.
Free Low Back Pain Workshop
If you have any of the symptoms I discussed in this post and are looking for more information about your back pain, please call 206-641-7733 to register for our FREE Low Back Pain Workshop on Wednesday, March 29th from 5:30-6:30pm. If you are ready to schedule an evaluation, you can call us or schedule your first appointment online here.
Image 1: Low trunk rotations
Image 2: Double knee to chest
Image 3: Single knee to chest
Written by Dr. Ryan Simmons
Director of Physical Therapy
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