The term stenosis means “narrowing” of a tube or opening.  Spinal stenosis means that the tube surrounding your spinal cord and nerve roots has become too small, and your nerves are being compressed.  Stenosis can arise in different ways. Sometimes, people are born with a spinal canal that is too small. Other times, the canal may have been narrowed by surgery or conditions like disc bulges.  Most commonly, spinal stenosis arises from chronic arthritic changes that narrow the canal. This type of stenosis usually develops slowly over a long period of time, and symptoms show up later in life.  
Patients with stenosis often report pain, tingling, numbness or weakness in their legs.  Lower back pain may or may not be present, but leg symptoms are usually more bothersome. You may notice increasing symptoms from standing or walking and relief while sitting because the available space in your spinal canal decreases when you stand, walk or lean back and increases when you sit or flex forward.  Walking down hill is usually more uncomfortable than walking up hill. You may notice that when you walk with a shopping cart or lawn mower, you are more comfortable, as this promotes slight flexion. Sleeping on your side in a fetal position with a pillow between your knees may be most comfortable.
The natural course of spinal stenosis is variable.  Most patients notice their symptoms stay about the same over time, while others are divided into fairly equal groups who either improve or worsen.  Be sure to tell your doctor if you notice that your legs become cold, swollen or change color. Likewise, tell us if you notice a fever, unexplained weight loss, flu-like symptoms, excessive thirst or urination, numbness in your groin or loss of bladder control.  
While there is no non-surgical cure for stenosis, we offer potent treatments to help ease your symptoms.  Treatment is focused on helping improve your mobility so that you can walk and function better. You will be given exercises to help with conditioning. You should avoid activities that increase your pain, including heavy lifting or those that cause you to extend your back, like prolonged standing or overhead activity. When you are forced to stand, you may find relief by slightly elevating one foot on a stool or bar rail.  You may find relief while washing dishes if you open your cabinet door and alternately rest one foot on the inside of the cabinet to provide a little bit of flexion. Recumbent cycling is often a more tolerable alternative to walking or running. Some patients report relief by using an inversion table.

Our treatment options:

  • Spinal and hip adjustments
  • Cox Flexion Distraction
  • Electrical stimulation or spinalator rolling table
  • Muscle work and stretching
  • Exercises
  • Kinesiology Taping
  • Acupuncture
  • Personalized home exercises

Other tips:

Lifting Mechanics

Here are some tips to help you lift safely:
– Avoid lifting or flexing before you’ve had the chance to warm up your muscles (especially when you first awaken or after sitting or stooping for a period of time).
– To lift, stand close directly facing object with your feet shoulder width apart.
– Squat down by bending with your knees, not your back. Imagine a fluorescent light tube strapped to your head and hips when bending. Don’t “break” the tube with improper movements. Tuck your chin to help keep your spine aligned.
– Slowly lift by thrusting your hips forward while straightening your legs.
– Keep the object close to your body, within your powerzone” between your hips and chest. Do not twist your body, if you must turn while carrying an object, reposition your feet, not your torso.

An alternative lifting technique for smaller objects is the golfers lift. Swing one leg directly behind you. Keep your back straight while your body leans forward. Placing one hand on your thigh or a sturdy object may help.

Sleep Posture

Your mattress and the position you sleep in may affect your condition.
– Choose a mattress that provides medium or firm support, such as a traditional coil spring or adjustable airbed. Avoid waterbeds, thick pillow tops and soft, sagging mattresses.
– Always sleep on your back with a pillow either underneath your knees or on your side with a pillow between your knees. Avoid sleeping on your stomach.
– Keep your neck and back covered while sleeping to avoid drafts that could cause potential muscle spasms.


To avoid extra stress on your spine while standing:
– Avoid high-heeled shoes or boots
– Use a footrest measuring 10% of your height
– To decrease stress on your back and feet consider leaning on a tall chair.
– If excessive standing can’t be avoided, consider shock-absorbent shoes or an anti-fatigue mat.
– When transitioning from a sitting workstation to a standing desk, begin gradually by standing 20 minutes per hour and not necessarily in a continuous period. Add an extra 10 minutes per hour each day as long as there is no prolonged stiffness or discomfort.

Information Organized by