Physical Therapy & Spinal Stenosis Treatment
By Western Berks on July 3rd, 2018
Physical Therapy Scores High in the Treatment of Spinal Stenosis
Patients diagnosed with lumbar spinal stenosis are often surprised to learn that physical therapy for low back pain can be as effective as surgery without the associated costs and complications. The debilitating and painful diagnosis is a daily struggle for nearly 400,000 Americans.
The results of a study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine suggest that patients with lumbar spinal stenosis should first turn to a physical therapist trained to treat low back pain. The study team directly compared a single, evidence-based physical therapy regimen with decompression surgery in 169 participants who agreed to be randomly assigned to either approach. The study research revealed comparable long-term outcomes regardless of whether patients were assigned to the surgery or the physical therapy cohort.
Additionally, study authors concluded that increases in function followed similar trajectories from baseline onward in both groups. Symptomatic lumbar spinal stenosis frequently leads to lifestyle-limiting back and lower extremity pain in older patients.
A physical therapy regimen for spinal stenosis is designed to reduce soft tissue pain, improve function and build muscle strength. Although the long-term outcomes of surgery and physical therapy are similar for this patient population, the short-term risks differ. Immediate decompression surgery, which involves removing the bony plate on the back of the vertebra where the stenosis is located, is an invasive procedure that comes with a high price tag and the prospect of complications. Meanwhile, similar outcomes can be achieved with an active, standardized physical therapy regimen that involves general conditioning, lower extremity strengthening exercises and postural education.
If you suffer from spinal stenosis or any other back pain, talk with your healthcare provider to see if physical therapy is the right decision for you! Some physical therapy providers offer free consultations and can see you the same day to get you on the road to a pain free life!