Northern PT_Is Your Back Pain Spinal Stenosis?


Why Are YouWaiting For Your Spinal Stenosis Pain To Worsen Before Seeking Treatment?

According to the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons, spinal stenosis is a silent epidemic. It is estimated that 2.4 million Americans will suffer from spinal stenosis by 2021. Spinal stenosis occurs mostly in people 50 and over, but can occur in younger adults with a history of arthritis. This month’s newsletter is about how you can relieve spinal stenosis pain and how we can help.

INSIDE: Back Pain Analysis Exercise Essentials


Ben McCormack, PT, CEO

On Kingdom Trails in Northern VT

Quote of The Month:

Don’t Let Spinal Stenosis Slow You Down! What is spinal stenosis?

“The best and most beautiful

things in the world cannot be seen or even touched - they must be felt with the heart.” - Helen Keller

spine, the canals shrink in size and may also have bone spurs. This irritates the nerve roots, especially when the spine is extended. Sitting typically feels better, but standing and backwards bending increase pain. Is surgery needed? There is a big push towards fusion surgery for spinal stenosis and back pain. However, studies show that surgery should be a last resort, before conservative measures such as physical therapy are performed. In the vast majority of cases, surgery is not needed and people will have significant if not complete relief of their symptoms with physical therapy. Physical therapy targets the muscles and joints of the spine to build strength, improve stability of the spine and maintain the foramen as open as possible.

Spinal Stenosis refers to the narrowing of the canals in your spine that are formed by the vertebrae. This narrowing can impinge onthenervesexitingyourspineorthespinal cord itself. Symptoms can vary, but often include radiating pain to the back, buttocks and even legs. Furthermore, weakness and poor balance in the legs can often occur, making it difficult to tolerate walking long distances and prolonged standing. Foraminal stenosis This is the most common form of spinal stenosis. It refers to the narrowing of the foramen canals on either side of the spine formed by the vertebrae above and below the segment. In each canal, spinal nerves exit the lower back to supply different parts of the pelvis and legs. With age and deterioration of the discs between the


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“It’s Time To Relieve Your Stenosis Pain!”

Spinal stenosis is a mechanical problem of movement in your body. While medication may help to numb the pain, it does not fix the underlying mechanical problem. Here are tips on how you can improve your stenosis and back pain symptoms: 1. ICE Icing at the low back area on the affected side helps to decrease the inflammatory process. Use a flexible ice pack with a moist thin towel to make it easier to tolerate the ice. Use for 10 minutes and off for 30 minutes. Make sure to check your skin often and stop if it becomes painful. Apply 2-3 times a day, especially after repetitive bending or standing activities. 2. Improve Hip and Spine Flexibility Restoring natural movement to the spinal joints, hip joints and sacroiliac joints, helps to relieve abnormal pressures on the sciatic nerve. It allows your body to move freely when doing normal everyday tasks and prevents injury and strains. Care should be taken when stretching to be gentle and work with your breathing. Never push through pain and avoid exercises that aggressively extend the spine. 3. Strengthening Your Core Your core muscle groups are the spinal muscles, abdominal muscles, pelvic and hip muscles. By doing exercises that combine these muscle groups together you can develop an internal corset that supports your spinal column. Gentle Pilates and core strengthening exercises are good, however, be sure to consult your physical therapist before starting exercises you are unsure of doing.

4. Manual Physical Therapy Hands on specialized manual physical therapy techniques restore the natural movements of the spinal, hip and sacroiliac joints. This helps to open the foraminal canals in the spine. Physical therapists are the unique medical professionals who are trained extensively in these types of techniques. If you are suffering with back pain or spinal stenosis, don’t put off getting help as your condition weakens the spine further and can set you up for more extensive injury in the future. Call us today to speak with one of our physical therapists and see for yourself, what a difference our SPINE program can make for your back.

Attention Back Pain Sufferers

• Do you have back or neck pain when bending or reaching? • Does your pain get worse with walking? • Do you suffer with stiffness, swelling or tenderness in your spine? • If you have answered “Yes” to any of the questions, we can help.

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By Nic Tremblay, PTA

If you’re looking for the holy grail of healing well...that’s a myth unless you’re Indiana Jones BUT hopefully I can fill your cup with the information (and inspiration!) to help you help yourself with your healing (say that five times fast!). In reality, there’s no singular moment when healing begins but more so a series of moments. More specifically, the decisions made in said moments. Confused? Don’t be! If you take this moment and decide to follow me to the next paragraph all will be revealed…

tidy checklist with no missed routines (Good on you! Give yourself a gold star!). The last subject of this article and the endgame of the plan is having a goal. I firmly believe that everyone needs a goal in some capacity every day of their lives...even something as simple as getting through the day without a meltdown! It’s this forward-moving approach that is the crux of every successful person’s life. The intimidation factor

comes into play when one only focuses on how far away and unachievable the final goal seems. This is why it’s important to have what I call progress goals while working toward your end goal. These are “checkpoints” that can be achieved along the way to your ultimate success. Let’s say you had a total knee replacement and you want to get back to your daily five mile walks. Now, with most total knee replacements, that’s a lot of ground to cover (literally) and if you are ONLY focused on the end result any

Glad you chose to join me here! Physical therapy is one medium of healing. Others include occupational therapy, speech language pathology, psychotherapy, music and art therapy, as well as approaches like guided meditation and aromatherapy. While these all have their merits, they share an Achilles heel. Each of them requires consistency. The moment you choose to say “no” instead of “YES” to healing is the moment it stops working for you.

I firmly believe that everyone needs a goal in some capacity every day of their lives...

progress you make in the meantime may seem insignificant or even go unnoticed. Some checkpoints could be regaining 90 degrees of knee flexion (endeavoring to eventually reaching 120 degrees) or be able to push “X” amount of weight on the leg press machine. These are milestones in strength and mobility that are necessary to reach the ultimate five-mile-a-day achievement. So, goal-oriented thinking is great but being able to stick to the plan, forming healthy and productive habits, and staying motivated are all crucial elements when being an active participant in your healing. Recruiting those close to you can help you on your journey and make the process more engaging with them celebrating in your success (even if they make you crazy in the process!). Remember, saying “yes!” to healing is the first step to a healthier and happier life!

Okay, you’ve chosen your approach (or approaches) and have set a plan in motion. The first few times your participate in this (exercises, meditation, mantras, etc) you’re typically filled with enthusiasm and vigor. This can often be fleeting and if you allow this feeling to be your only motivator then plan participation can wane as quickly as your excitement does (and it will). This is why you need accountability- based habits by forming routines that you or someone close to you can hold you to! This can be as simple as having someone you live or work with be your accountability partner that monitors how consistently you participate in your plan. This can also be done in the form of a daily checklist that will reveal any times your neglected to stick to your routine. The inverse of this (being consistent with your plan) can also result in a sense of personal satisfaction with positive feedback from your accountability partner or a very neat and

Exercise Essentials Outstanding relief for your aches...

Relieves a tight lower back

Keeps the body flexible

Double Knee to Chest Lying on your back. Pull both knees to your chest. Hold for 10 seconds and feel the stretch. Repeat 6 times.

Single Knee to Chest Lie on your back. Hug your knee. Keep your opposite leg bent. Hold for 10 seconds and feel the stretch. Switch legs. Repeat 6 times.

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