Massage therapy for spinal stenosis specifically has been verified as being effective, including deep-tissue massage, which, it was reported, not only released the accumulated tension in muscles but in tendons and ligaments as well. This, in turn, dramatically releases the pressure on the spine.
What is spinal stenosis?
Spinal stenosis is a narrowing of the spinal canal usually caused by the natural process of aging. It can also be caused by disc herniation, osteoporosis, or a tumor. It can affect the whole spine or segments and can result in back pain and abnormal sensations in various parts of the body depending on where the stenosis occurs and how much nerve impingement there is. Lumbar stenosis can also result in loss of bladder and bowel function.
Stenosis is Greek for narrowing or constricting space and is a condition that can occur in any tubular structure of the body. Often, spinal stenosis occurs in the spinal column where the vertebrae, spinal cord, and nerve roots are located. Put simply, it is the constricting and narrowing of the spinal canal.
Typically speaking, the lumbar (lower back) and cervical (neck) regions are most commonly affected by spinal stenosis. Although having different names (lumbar spinal stenosis and cervical spinal stenosis), both types of spinal stenosis have a similar effect on the body.
Individuals can either acquire spinal stenosis or inherit the disease. Those who inherit the condition, have a small spinal canal at birth that may become narrower over time. For those that have acquired spinal stenosis, the condition usually begins slowly due to age-related degeneration, developing slowly over many years. As time passes, the spaces between the spinal cord, nerve roots, and vertebrae are minimized. Often, this narrowing of the spinal canal can be the result of abnormal bone or tissue growth.
Massage therapy for spinal stenosis. … Deep tissue massage can help to release built-up tension in muscles, tendons, and ligaments, greatly releasing the pressure on the spine. Swedish massage, a gentler form of massage, can also be used to gently relax the muscles and calm the nervous system.
Spinal stenosis is a degenerative disease with painful symptoms that can be greatly relieved by massage therapy. Without proper treatment, spinal stenosis may lead to chronic back and neck pain, negatively affecting the sufferer’s daily activities and quality of life. Pain management is an important part of symptomatic treatment with spinal stenosis – which is the reason that massage plays such an important role.
How does the body ‘acquire’ spinal stenosis?
- Ligaments connecting the spine may become larger;
- Bone spurs (osteophytes) may grow on the vertebrae, pushing on the spinal cord or nerve roots, causing irritation and pain, or
- Vertebral discs and bones may be forced back against the spinal cord through repeated pressure or trauma.
Living with spinal stenosis
For those living with this painful condition, everyday activities, such as household chores, exercising, or working may be painful. The main cause of the pain is the compression of various spinal components and the associated squeezing of the nerve roots, which in turn, irritate the nervous system. Once irritation occurs, patients may feel pain, weakness, or numbness in various parts of the body. For those living with this condition, the following basic health measures are recommended:
- maintain good posture
- get adequate sleep in a comfortable bed
- maintain regular exercise
- eat a balanced and healthy diet
Of primary importance for sufferers of spinal stenosis is maintaining a regular exercise routine that involves a significant amount of stretching for the whole body, including rotation of the spine. Additionally, strengthening exercises should be performed to help maintain a good range of movement and general strength.
Massage therapy for spinal stenosis
Several types of massage are excellent for alleviating the symptoms of spinal stenosis. Deep tissue massage can help to release built-up tension in muscles, tendons, and ligaments, greatly releasing the pressure on the spine. Swedish massage, a gentler form of massage, can also be used to gently relax the muscles and calm the nervous system.
When a client is suffering from a flare-up, and inflammation is present, gentle, soft-tissue massage can be useful to help with circulation, which in turn, helps to settle the inflammation. At this time, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs may also be prescribed by an MD medical practitioner. When a patient has recovered from a difficult flare-up, regular remedial massage may be advised to help lengthen the tissues and restore the range of movement to the area.
Managing your painful symptoms from spinal stenosis can be stressful; trying to balance your normal activities with chronic pain is one of the many difficulties this condition can bring. Massage for spinal stenosis can be an effective part of a treatment plan because it can both temporarily relieve symptoms and also provide an overall wellness boost.
Spinal stenosis is a narrowing of the spinal canal usually related to age-related conditions like arthritis and can lead to chronic, debilitating pain. Normal activities, such as housework, your job, or even just going out for the night can become ordeals. To learn more about spinal stenosis and why it occurs, visit our spinal stenosis and diagnosing spinal stenosis pages.
Symptoms from spinal stenosis can be local and also radiate to the arms, hips, and legs. Some flexibility may be lost and there can be a discomfort when leaning backward. You also may experience cramping, numbness, and tingling. Massage can be a great choice to treat these specific symptoms.
The first step in seeking pain relief is to see your doctor for an accurate diagnosis of your condition. From there, you can work together to develop a plan of conservative treatment, possibly including massage physical therapy for spinal stenosis. The good news is that most people with stenosis find lasting relief and return to normal activities by following a course of non-surgical options.
Massage therapy for spinal stenosis can include:
- Deep tissue massage — A massage therapist can pinpoint the location of symptoms and use direct pressure to release tension.
- Craniosacral therapy — This is an alternative treatment that uses therapeutic touch involving gentle manipulation of your head and other areas.
- Swedish massage — Basic rubbing, kneading, or stretching your muscles
Will losing weight help with spinal stenosis?
For people who are overweight, attention to overall weight loss is important as every pound adds strain to the muscles and ligaments in the back. In order to compensate for extra weight, the spine can become tilted and stressed unevenly.
Preventing a recurrence
Sufferers of spinal stenosis are likely to experience flare-ups from time to time. Following a regular exercise and stretching routine and thus maintaining a good range of movement and flexible muscles, should help to minimize recurrences. Added to this, regular massage sessions will help by not only releasing tension in painful areas but also by helping to calm the nervous system.
*Disclaimer: This information is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease without consulting with a qualified healthcare provider.
Please consult your healthcare provider with any questions or concerns you may have regarding your condition.
The information provided is for educational purposes only and is not intended as a diagnosis, treatment, or prescription of any kind. The decision to use, or not to use, any information is the sole responsibility of the reader. These statements are not expressions of legal opinion relative to the scope of practice, medical diagnosis, or medical advice, nor do they represent an endorsement of any product, company, or specific massage therapy technique, modality, or approach. All trademarks, registered trademarks, brand names, registered brand names, logos, and company logos referenced in this post are the property of their owners.