Spine research leads to the development of “Bootcamp” for pain relief
Many spinal stenosis patients are finding relief from the condition’s debilitating symptoms thanks to a “Bootcamp” approach, developed by Dr. Carlo Ammendolia DC, PhD and his team at the University of Toronto and Mount Sinai Hospital. The program has been in the works for over two years and is showing promising results for patients who are living with pain and loss of independence.
As I’ve mentioned in past blogs, spinal stenosis is caused by a narrowing of the spinal canal, most often as a result of degenerative changes such as arthritis. It is one of the most common causes of pain and disability in seniors. This narrowing puts pressure on the nerves and discs in the spine, causing pain, numbness, tingling and weakness in the legs and back. Blood supply is also diminished due to this pressure.
Although this narrowing cannot be reversed without surgery, Dr. Ammendolia says that there is a dynamic component to this condition where by patients can influence the amount of space in the spinal canal depending on which postures and positions they are in. For example, leaning forward generally allows your vertebral discs to expand, therefore allowing more space within the spine. Working of this premise, Dr. Ammendolia suggests that we can influence symptoms and the effects of spinal stenosis depending on the exercises and positions we commonly use.
The goal of this program is to increase the openings of the spine. Spinal stenosis bootcamp combines abdominal core conditioning through various exercises and manual manipulation of the lower back to improve flexibility. Through improved flexibility through treatments in the clinic and on their own, the patient will have more control over their spinal alignment which may free up space, even millimetres within the spinal canal. Dr. Ammendolia says that even changes this small can have a huge impact on the overall mobility and pain of an individual meaning a big improvement for a patient’s quality of life. These kinds of changes may even impact the need for surgery in some patients.
Thanks to a successful two-year run, Dr. Ammendolia and his team are preparing for the next step. A randomized control trial is in the works to demonstrate the effectiveness of the program compared to a control group that is not involved in the Bootcamp protocol.