Physical Therapy for Spinal Stenosis

Physical therapy as a conservative treatment for spinal stenosis consists of exercises, soft tissue manipulation, and other treatment modalities, such as hot and cold packs. The purpose of exercises is to strengthen the abdominal muscles and promote mobility of the lumbar paraspinal muscles, thus minimizing lordosis. Lordosis can be reduced by up to 7%, which is sufficient to relieve pain. 50 Trunk strengthening exercises were also prescribed to build up the abdominal and lumbar muscles, “thereby creating a corset of muscles to support the lumbar spine” 10 and to build conditioning and increase walking distance.

Exercises that encourage lumbar flexion and flattening of the lumbar lordotic curve can be of a clinical benefit to patients suffering from lumbar spinal stenosis. An exercise program must be used 4 to 5 times a week to be beneficial, and any early signs of improvement are observed 4 to 6 weeks after the program has begun.11