Surgery is the most common treatment for lumbar spinal stenosis, a type of lower back pain. Such invasive procedures, however, often involve serious complications, from nerve injuries and chronic symptoms to the need for further surgical procedures. That’s why researchers are constantly looking for alternatives to this treatment.
A recent study found that physical therapy is a solution for lumbar spinal stenosis; this is true for patients from Brooklyn in New York to San Francisco and back. The researchers advise patients to first consider engaging in a physical therapy program, as this provides fairly the same results as surgery, with fewer complications.
Surgery vs. Physical Therapy
A group of researchers observed 169 men and women who had lumbar spinal stenosis, and grouped participants into two groups. The first group was supposed to undergo surgery, while the second one would have to initially go through tailored physical therapy programs.
The results showed that benefits were evident as early as 10 weeks after treatment started. Participants experienced reduced pain over four months, with their physical health getting better. After two years, the researchers evaluated patient health and found no difference in pain and physical function between surgery and PT programs.
These findings prompted researchers to advise trying tailored PT programs first to treat lumbar spinal stenosis. Patients may then choose surgery, if ever the program doesn’t produce desired results or for special conditions.
How Physical Therapy Helps
Physical therapy for spinal stenosis involves special exercises that alleviate pressure in the nerves to relieve pain. More particularly, you will do some stretching and flexibility routines to improve mobility in certain muscles. Therapists will also help you practice correct posture, which is also important in easing pressure on the nerves.
Special pain treatments, like heat and ice therapy, may also be part of your program. Heat therapy facilitates proper blood circulation to the muscles, while ice therapy contributes to pain relief. To improve tolerance on physical activities and promote conditioning, your therapist will likely suggest cycling and walking exercises.
You don’t have to endure constant lower back pain; seek treatment immediately. Consider physical therapy before going for invasive procedures. This may just be the suitable solution for your needs.