Almost everyone has experienced back pain in their lives that may come and go, or may be related to an old injury. There are different reasons for back pain but for someone with spinal stenosis, symptoms are related to the narrowing of the spinal canal.
This can cause pinched nerve sensations, tingling, numbness, weakness, pain with standing, and pain that radiates such as down the arms or down the legs.
Spinal stenosis can be due to anatomical problems, accidents/traumas, age, arthritis, and abnormal growths compressing into the canal. Evaluation typically involves imaging by MRI and may require surgery if severe enough.
If not, and if your qualified health care provider feels you can go the non-surgical route, here are 5 ways to reduce your pain due to spinal stenosis.
1) Weight loss
Your spinal cord is responsible for a lot, which includes carrying around all that weight on your frame and dispersing the load. Excess weight can change your posture and compress the discs in your back, leading to symptoms.
For each pound of fat lost, the pressure on your joints lessens significantly. Therefore, those sufferers who are carrying around extra weight should make a concerted effort to lose it with diet, exercise and lifestyle changes.
Tight, imbalanced muscles between the front and back of your body can worsen back pain by pulling on bones and joints inappropriately. Work with a qualified physical therapist or clinician who can teach you proper stretching techniques specific for your back pain.
For those with bad posture and who sit all day, stretching is critically important to unwind those tense muscles. Every hour or two push away from the desk and do some stretching while focusing on proper back, shoulder and neck alignment.
There is good research to demonstrate that a regular yoga practice can improve back pain. Consider joining a class for beginners, buy a DVD, or search the web for great tutorials and get started today.
There is a lot of stretching in yoga that helps with both posture and muscle alignment. Start with 10 or 15 minutes in the morning or before bed and work up from there.
4) Think anti-inflammatory
Spinal stenosis can cause a lot of inflammation in the body. Therefore work to eliminate all the inflammation you can that's stemming from your diet and look to see what your triggers might be.
Perhaps you already know that dairy is irritating but eat it anyway. Sugar is a known pro-inflammatory food. Fried foods, fatty foods, fast foods, calorie-empty foods are not serving your healing process. Time to re-evaluate.
Also consider anti-inflammatory foods or supplements such as turmeric, ginger, and omega-3 fatty acids in fish oil.
See the chiropractor
As chiropractors deal in the health of your joints, consider visiting one who specializes in spinal stenosis to get back into proper alignment and help alleviate some of the pressure on your body.
In addition, consider other practitioners who focus on muscles and joints such as a massage therapist or acupuncturist to work on your muscles and reduce pain or nerve symptoms.
Spinal stenosis can be a severe problem. Before beginning any of the recommendations for pain, consult with your health care provider and make sure you have had proper evaluation and management.
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Stuber, K., Sajko, S., and Kristmanson, K. (2009). Chiropractice treatment of lumbar spinal stenosis: a review of the literature. Retrieved from
Tomkins, C., Dimoff, K., Forman, H., Gordon, E., McPhail, J., Wong, J., and Battie, M. (2010). Physical therapy treatment options for lumbar spinal stenosis. Retrieved from
Reviewed January 21, 2015
by Michele Blacksberg RN
Edited by Jody Smith