Managing your spinal stenosis symptoms can prove to be difficult when you have a full schedule that involves work, hobbies, family, friends, and/or pets. It’s important to keep in mind that an initial course of conservative treatment for your spinal stenosis will be more easily managed if it doesn’t disrupt your day-to-day activities too much, so try to integrate a variety of simple pain relief techniques into your routine.
Spinal stenosis symptoms generally arise when the narrowed portion of the spinal canal causes the compression of one or more nearby spinal nerves. No matter if the stenosis occurs due to a disc abnormality, bone spurs that grow around a facet joint, or ligament calcification, the symptoms will likely be similar among most patients. Radiating pain and a pins-and-needles sensation may travel throughout the back, neck, and extremities. It’s also possible to experience periods of numbness, joint instability, and muscle weakness.
Ask your doctor about the following treatment options:
- At work – Try to use ergonomic furniture at all times and, if you must stand for long periods of the day, be sure to wear supportive shoes and neck or back braces as necessary. Practice good posture techniques, too.
- At home – Do gentle stretches and low-impact exercises in your free time, and try to use your “rest” time wisely. For example, apply an ice pack or hot compress to your back as you watch TV, or use a therapeutic body pillow to properly align your spine as you read before bed.
- At night – Use a medium-firm mattress instead of an extremely firm mattress. If you’re a back sleeper, use a pillow with cervical support. If you’re a side sleeper, put a pillow between your knees to help your spine stay in its neutral “S” position.
In addition to conservative treatments that can be easily integrated into your daily routine, your doctor may prescribe pain medication, physical therapy, and behavior modification techniques to help manage your spinal stenosis symptoms. You may also find relief from ultrasound therapy, transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS), acupuncture, or corticosteroid injections.
If a combination of non-surgical treatments proves ineffective even after several months, spinal stenosis surgery may become an option. While some decompression surgeries involve a high level of invasiveness, spinal fusion, bone grafts, and an arduous rehabilitation, minimally invasive procedures are available. Research the possibility of an outpatient, endoscopic procedure, which does not involve hospitalization, general anesthesia, or a large incision.