- Spinal stenosis
- What causes spinal stenosis?
- Location and types of spinal stenosis
- How does spinal stenosis affect the body?
- Who is at higher risk of developing spinal stenosis?
- How is spinal stenosis diagnosed?
- What is the treatment for spinal stenosis?
- Coping with spinal stenosis
- What is the outlook for someone with spinal stenosis?
Coping with spinal stenosis
It is not entirely possible to prevent spinal stenosis, but maintaining overall good health is the best means of keeping risk reasonably low. Not everyone in their later years will develop spinal stenosis and there is currently no way to predict who will be affected.
Mild symptoms may require minimal medical interventions and in some instances, simple homecare measures can help to manage symptoms without the need to compromise one’s overall quality of life.
Measures which can help a person to better cope with this condition include:
- Activity modification and exercise: Working with a physical therapist to determine comfortable activities that reduce the risk of further damage or muscle weakness, while alleviating some symptoms. Exercises which flex, stretch or strengthen the back and neck can help to open up the spine, alleviating compression symptoms. Canes and walkers can also be used to walk in a forward flexed manner and provide some stability.
- Heated and cold compresses: A heat compress or a hot shower will help to loosen up muscles, while cool compresses alleviate inflammation. Both can be used as needed in the affected areas.
- Over-the-counter medications: Pain medications can provide some temporary relief of discomfort, pain and inflammation. It is best to ensure that the treating doctor is kept in the loop concerning all medication being taken so as to avoid unwanted side-effects.
- Overall health maintenance: Maintaining a healthy weight will ensure that less pressure is placed on the spine and back in general. If overweight, measures to achieve a healthier weight are advisable through getting adequate exercise and ensuring sound nutrition. Practicing good posture is also beneficial, and using chair supports or firmer mattresses can help too. It is also best to avoid or limit bending over (rather bend from the knees and not the back) and lifting heavy objects. Keeping regular follow-up appointments with a treating doctor will also aid in the effective management of symptoms and ensure the ongoing monitoring of one’s overall condition.