7 Myths About Lumbar Spinal Stenosis (knowing these can improve your life!)
1. Spinal stenosis always gets worse over time.
FALSE: Studies have shown that some people with spinal stenosis show a decrease in spinal stenosis over time. (Who are these people, and what do they know?)
2. You should force yourself to stand up straight to lessen the symptoms of stenosis.
FALSE: Forcing yourself (or someone else) to stand up straight can create more pressure on the spinal cord and lead to increased weakness in the legs. It’s better to allow yourself to stand as straight as you are comfortable standing, and if you start to stoop more than usual, it may be time to take a rest.
3. Short of surgery, there is nothing you can do to reduce spinal stenosis.
FALSE: Studies have shown that the number one factor in reducing spinal stenosis is to improve one’s overall physical health.
4. Spinal stenosis is a rapidly progressing arthritic condition.
FALSE: Spinal stenosis is a very slowly progressing condition. (You have time to try to improve your health.)
5. Disc bulges, herniations, and protrusions are always painful.
FALSE: Up to 80% of pain-free individuals show disc bulges, herniations, and protrusions when given MRIs. Even people with severe disc bulges can be pain- and symptom-free.
6. You should encourage yourself to keep walking, even when your legs are fatigued.
FALSE: When a person’s legs are feeling weak due to spinal stenosis, it is because they are not getting the proper signal from the nerves. When this happens, fatiguing those muscles can lead to more severe muscle damage and weakness—exactly the opposite of what you intended.
7. Using a walker will only make a person weaker and more dependent.
FALSE: Using a walker or cane can help unload the spine, which decreases the pressure on the spinal cord or nerves. Using a walker, cane, or trekking poles
can allow you to walk comfortably for longer periods, thus enjoying a longer aerobic workout. They can also prevent falls. (You can always ditch the walker when your legs are feeling strong again.)
MAKE LIFE BETTER—LIVE WELL WITH LUMBAR STENOSIS