Studies indicate that spinal stenosis currently affects more than 200,000 adults in the United States, potentially increasing by 2025 to include 64 million older adults (1).
Though surgery may be the right solution for some people suffering from spinal stenosis, there are other methods to consider when trying to alleviate your symptoms.
Read on to find out more about the causes and types of spinal stenosis and how an inversion table for spinal stenosis may be able to help you find relief.
Spinal Stenosis – The Basics
In medical terms, “stenosis” refers to the narrowing or constricting a bodily passage. Spinal stenosis is when the spaces inside the spine narrow, putting pressure on the spinal cord and its nerve roots.
The condition typically impacts the cervical or lumbar regions of the spine. It causes compression in the spinal canal and between the vertebrae (2).
Symptoms of spinal stenosis may vary depending on where the constriction occurs along the spine. If spinal stenosis affects your lower back, you may experience pain or cramping in one or both legs and lower back pain.
Suppose the condition is focused around your neck. In that case, you can expect neck pain, numbness, trouble balancing or walking, limb weakness, and bladder or bowel problems (3).
Types of Spinal Stenosis
There are two main types of spinal stenosis: central canal stenosis and foraminal (or lateral) stenosis. The two types can occur at the same time. Let’s briefly take a closer look at each type (4).
Central Canal Stenosis:
- Usually in the lumbar or cervical spine regions.
- Occurs when one or more vertebrae are located in the spinal canal and protecting the spinal cord narrows.
- It can happen in 2 regions at once (known as tandem stenosis).
Foraminal (or Lateral) Stenosis:
- Usually in the lumbar spine region. Sometimes in the cervical spine region, but rarely in the thoracic region.
- Refers to stenosis that happens besides the spinal canal.
- Affects spinal nerves directly through narrowing or constriction.
Causes of Spinal Stenosis
Spinal stenosis typically develops over time due to the everyday wear-and-tear your body endures as you age. However, some specific circumstances may initiate or worsen spinal stenosis symptoms (5):
Arthritis may cause extra bone growths (known as bone spurs) to appear on the spine, putting pressure on the spinal canal.
As the soft centre bulges out of the spinal discs, it may compress the spinal canal and cause narrowing.
Broken bones and inflammation may increase pressure on spinal nerves and the spinal canal.
Spinal cysts or tumors
Though rare, tumors can occur in the spinal canal, adding to the narrowing effects of stenosis.
Arthritis may cause the cords holding the spine together to thicken over time, bulging into the spinal canal and taking up extra space.
Can Inversion Therapy Relieve Spinal Stenosis Symptoms?
Inversion therapy is a form of decompression therapy that centers around elongating the spine. The idea is that by allowing your body to hang upside down for a brief period, you can reverse the compressing effects of gravity on the spine.
Since spinal stenosis is caused mainly by the narrowing of the spinal canal in some way, inversion therapy can relieve symptoms associated with the condition when practiced regularly and safely.
How Inversion Therapy Helps Spinal Stenosis
The root cause of spinal stenosis is inadequate space in the spinal canal. The tightened area around the nerves and spinal cord irritates and may lead to neck and lower back pain.
Inversion therapy may appease this pain by creating more space between the spinal discs, lessening the pressure on or around the spinal canal.
Inversion therapy involves the use of an inversion table to stretch the spine.
Once strapped into an inversion table, you can safely place your body at an angle that allows the spine to elongate and decompress, bringing instant pain relief for those suffering from spinal stenosis and similar conditions.
Studies indicate that practicing decompression therapy alongside other physical treatments can considerably improve pain, strength, and quality of life (6).
However, it is essential to note that this type of physical therapy may not be suitable for everyone, so you should talk to your physician before attempting inversion therapy to ensure it is the safest and best choice.
Benefits of Inversion Therapy
There are also additional benefits to inversion table therapy outside of its ability to provide relief to spinal stenosis symptoms:
- Realign your spine.
- Relax your muscles.
- Relieve pressure on your nerves.
- Improve your strength and flexibility.
- Spice up your workout routine.
- Promote spine health.
Which Inversion Table for Spinal Stenosis Is The Best?
Suppose you’re looking for ways to treat spinal stenosis symptoms without surgery. In that case, you may be in the market for an inversion table.
Selecting so many inversion tables from different brands can take much work. However, one particular device that stands out is the Teeter Inversion Table.
The FDA approved this table as a medical device and approved it for use by those suffering from spinal stenosis and various other back-related conditions like degenerative disc disease, herniated discs, sciatica, and more (7).
Other Treatments for Spinal Stenosis
Remember that while inversion therapy can temporarily relieve spinal stenosis symptoms, it cannot cure the condition entirely. Suppose inversion therapy isn’t the best choice for your spinal stenosis treatment. In that case, you may find some of these other remedies helpful:
- Apply heat or cold.
- Gentle stretches or exercises to strengthen the spine.
- Work with a physical therapist.
- Pain medication.
- Lumbar traction.
Remember to talk to your doctor before treating spinal stenosis on your own.
How do you reverse spinal stenosis?
Spinal stenosis can only technically be “reversed” through surgery. Otherwise, physical therapy like inversion therapy, lumbar traction, or regular exercise may help restore your quality of life.
Is an inversion table suitable for spinal compression?
An inversion table is an excellent solution for spinal compression, specifically designed to facilitate the opposite: spinal decompression.
What should you not do with spinal stenosis?
Avoid contact sports like football, basketball, soccer, martial arts, etc. These can cause trauma to the spine via sudden impacts. It would help if you also tried not to rest too often, as this could lead to muscle atrophy and worsen the condition of your spine.
What is the best exercise for spinal stenosis?
Water activities like swimming are great for spinal stenosis because they reduce stress on your limbs and joints.
- Wu, Ai Min et al. “Lumbar Spinal Stenosis: An Update on the Epidemiology, Diagnosis and Treatment.” AME Medical Journal, vol. 2, no. 5, May 2017, https://amj.amegroups.com/article/view/3837/4553.
- “Spinal Stenosis.” National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases, 2022, https://www.niams.nih.gov/health-topics/spinal-stenosis.
- Mayo Clinic Staff. “Spinal Stenosis.” Mayo Clinic, 25 October 2022, https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/spinal-stenosis/symptoms-causes/syc-20352961.
- Bjerke, Benjamin. “Types of Spinal Stenosis.” Spine Health, 25 November 2019, https://www.spine-health.com/conditions/spinal-stenosis/types-spinal-stenosis.
- “Spinal Stenosis.” Cleveland Clinic, 17 August 2020, https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/17499-spinal-stenosis.
- Amjad, Fareeha et al. “Effects of Non-Surgical Decompression Therapy in Addition to Routine Physical Therapy on Pain, Range of Motion, Endurance, Functional Disability and Quality of Life Versus Routine Physical Therapy Alone in Patients with Lumbar Radiculopathy; A Randomized ControlledTtrial.” BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders, vol. 23, 2022, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8924735.
- Teeter. “The Only Inversion Tables Registered with the FDA.” Teeter, 12 March 2017, https://teeter.com/blog/teeter-fda-registered.