Exercises for cervical spondylosis with foraminal stenosis

Updated June 13, 2017

Cervical spondylosis with foraminal stenosis is a common problem in older people. Spondylosis is a natural part of aging for most people. Caused by common wear and tear on the cervical spine, it is responsible for age related conditions such as bone spurs, calcified discs, a decrease in disc space and bulging discs, known as stenosis. When these issues interfere with the foramen where the nerve exits, pain results.

Physical therapy

Monitoring of any neck exercise by a physical therapist when stenosis is present prevents nerve damage to the C-spine. Before beginning exercises for cervical spondylosis with foraminal stenosis, cervical traction is called for. Traction reduces the pressure on the nerves and relieves pain. After traction, neck exercises to strengthen the neck prevent future episodes of pain. According to The Hospital for Special Surgery, a physical therapist administers occasional traction to relieve pain. If traction is effective, you can buy a traction device to perform traction at home. When the pain subsides, exercises will help you slowly restore areas that have weakened by disuse and guarding from pain.

Range of motion exercises

After taking steps to relieve pain from stenosis, exercises to improve range of motion aids in flexibility of the neck thereby reducing pain on movement. The National Health Service recommends low-impact exercises, such as walking or water exercises. These types of exercises prevent worsening of spondylosis and strengthen weak neck and shoulder muscles. The range of motion restored by these activities reduces pain due to a release of pressure on the spinal nerves.

Perform neck range of motion exercises by turning the head to one side as far as possible. Repeat on the opposite side.

Sitting straight, bring the chin toward the chest as far as possible, and hold. Then slowly tilt the head back as far as possible, and hold.


Isometric exercises build strength by exercising the muscle while limiting joint movement. It is an effective form of exercise for spondylosis because it reduces interference with irritated nerves in the cervical region while allowing for strengthening of the neck and shoulder muscles.

To perform isometric neck exercises, sit with the head looking straight, bend the head forward and touch your chin to your chest. Place your hand on the back of your head and apply gentle forward pressure while pushing back with your head. Repeat this three times. Perform the same maneuovre in the opposite direction leaning your head back, applying pressure on your forehead and pushing forward with your head. Repeat this three times.

For side neck exercises, sitting with your head facing forward, bend your head like you are touching your ear to your shoulder. Place your hand on the opposite side of the head and gently apply pressure while pushing back with your head. Repeat on the other side. Perform this three times on each side.

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About the Author

Mark Little began his professional writing career in 2009 with his work appearing on various websites. He emphasizes alternative approaches to health-related issues. He is certified as a sports nutritionist by the International Fitness Association. Little graduated from Texas Chiropractic College with a Doctor of Chiropractic degree.