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Which knee exercises are safe for a spinal stenosis patient?

Q: I am a 58 years old female suffering from spinal stenosis, which was confirmed after an MRI. Last year I suffered from sciatica for which surgery was planned, but by God’s grace, I got relief with medication. However, I still suffer from severe back pain, which comes up very frequently even with small strain. I also have osteoarthritis and am unable to fold my knees, especially the left one. Kindly let me know which exercises for knee and back will suit me? I used to walk for two km daily and do all types of exercises both abdominal for knee and back before developing sciatica. But now I have stopped all due to fear of re-developing sciatica.

A:Spinal stenosis is fairly common but produces pain and difficulty in few. Due to increasing age, inactivity, poor fitness and wrong ergonomics (man-machine relationship) the back and core muscles become weak and produce wrong dynamics of spine (curvatures of spine). You also have knee pain due to osteoarthritis; this further contributes to increased back pain. Prolonged standing, prolonged sitting may cause you similar pain.

Please always sleep sideways and use correct size pillow to fill-up the gap between head and the bed. Do not sleep on hard mattress but use a firm mattress. Follow all rules of lifting such as take help while lifting heavy objects. Avoid walking for long distances. Use good sports shoes, avoid climbing stairs and sitting at lower levels.

Plan to strengthen your knees first by doing simple exercises:

  1. Sit on a chair with back support and gently straighten your one leg holding for 5-6 counts and then do the same with the other one.
  2. While in bed do the same lying on your back - lift your leg up about 20 inches and repeat with the other leg.
  3. Do modified pavanmuktasan (without lifting the neck) gently
Do all these exercises several times twice a day without pain. Walk slowly and you may do some stationary cycling daily to improve your stamina.

Hot packs and rarely muscle relaxant tablets may be used.

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