Spinal stenosis is a serious diagnosis that requires treatment. There are many types of treatment for spinal stenosis ranging from homeopathic methods to surgery. A spinal stenosis involves parts of the spine narrowing, causing the nerves that flow through the spinal cord to become pinched or compressed, which ultimately inflicts pain around the area or even in the legs. This narrowing of the spine is due to aging or arthritis in the spine. The pinching of the nerves is from either disc herniation, slipped discs, or bone spurs on the vertebrae.
Spinal stenosis can often happen without any side affects. A person who is healthy and active may not ever feel the pain if they have spinal stenosis, or a person who does not happen to have a major nerve being pinched in the process. However, if a person feels pain from spinal stenosis it can be extremely severe. They might experience pain throughout the neck and shoulders (if it is cervical stenosis), low back, and legs. They might feel numbness or tingling in the legs, or stiffness along the back which often renders them immobile.
There are a few different types of spinal stenosis. There is cervical stenosis, which occurs in the cervical region of the spine located at neck from the base of the scull to the top of the shoulder area. Then there is lumbar stenosis which happens in the low back lumbar region of the spine. There are different angles that a stenosis can occur in the various vertebrae such as a lateral angle, which can affect specific nerves depending on which part of the vertebrae is pinching.
So can massage therapy help spinal stenosis? It truly depends. If you have spinal stenosis, the first thing you should do is contact a doctor and find out how bad your situation is. For some people rest and anti inflammatory medicines like aspirin, acetaminophen, or ibuprofen can help. Sometimes a doctor will suggest working with a physical therapist for exercises that can help loosen any stiff muscles that could be causing pain. Acupuncture and acupressure have also been known to bring relief to individuals suffering from a spinal stenosis. Acupuncture and acupressure is based on the belief that each individual carries an amount of energy or “chi” that can easily be blocked by any unhealthy physical or mental habits. If the chi is blocked, various parts of the body will pay the price such as arthritis in the spine causing nerve compression. Another form of massage therapy that is often used in treatment for spinal stenosis is chiropractic aid. Chiropractors work with the spine and mostly treat patients with chronic pain.
Other forms of massage that might help depending on how severe the pain is could be the Swedish massage or even a Thai deep tissue massage. Swedish massages, or classic massages, are generally more gentle and restorative; bringing the individual relaxation and comfort. A Thai deep tissue massage involves the giver using hands, knuckles, feet, heels, elbows, etc. to really work deep into the muscles and release tension. Whatever type of massage you get, it is extremely important to disclose any information regarding your pain and diagnosis to your therapist.
There are other methods of healing a spinal stenosis that are more invasive than massage. This includes an epidural, which involves putting steroids into the spine though a needle. An epidural does relieve a lot of tension off the back and surrounding muscles, but it is invasive. Also surgery is often used to treat spinal stenosis. Spinal surgery does have risks, but sometimes it is inevitable in severe cases.