BPS 19: What are the Treatment Options for Spinal Stenosis?

Spinal stenosis affects about 2.4 million people in the US. Most people experience severe pain due to spinal stenosis. Individuals suffering from the condition have difficulty in walking or writing for a long period of time. Some people have to use a cane to maintain balance when walking.

Spinal stenosis problem can be treated with nonsurgical and surgical options. In this article, we will inform about five common treatment options for the condition.

1. Behavioral Modification

Individuals suffering from spinal stenosis treatment are ordered to avoid activities that can worsen the symptoms. Recommended activity modification may include walking while leaning on a walker, or bent over instead of walking upright. Also, the individual may be advised to sit in a recliner rather than sitting in a chair.

2. Epidural Injections

Another treatment option for spinal stenosis is epidural injection. Doctors inject cortisone into the epidural space. This can help provide temporary relief from symptoms of spinal stenosis. However, recent studies have questioned the efficacy of the injections. There has also been concern over the risk of corticosteroid injections for patients suffering from osteoporosis related fractures. Although, it’s a mainstream option that is offered by most physicians, the treatment should be recommended after considering both risks and benefits.

3. Physical Therapy

Doctors may recommend physical therapy for the treatment of spinal stenosis. Exercise is not a cure but prevents additional complications due to inactivity. The doctor may suggest a therapy program under the supervision of a health expert. The therapy is started slowly and strength is built over time.

4. Medications

Medications may be prescribed to provide pain relief. Doctors may recommend medications such as ibuprofen or aspirin to reduce the symptoms of spinal stenosis. In addition, short term narcotic medication may be recommended to avoid severe nerve related pain. Some spinal specialist also prescribes the use of nerve decentering medications (gabapentin), muscle relaxers, and antidepressants.

5. Surgical Treatment

Surgery may be recommended in case the symptoms do not subside with nonsurgical options. Some people are able to successfully manage spinal stenosis symptoms with nonsurgical therapies. Those who don’t get any relief from nonsurgical options may have to undergo surgery.

For treating advanced cases of spinal stenosis, a decompression surgery can provide relief.  Other treatment options for the condition include fact replacement and interspinous process devices.

An accurate diagnosis is important for successful treatment of spinal stenosis. Generally, doctors carry out imaging studies to identify the exact location of narrowing. Not carrying out a proper diagnosis may result in ineffective treatment of the condition. The doctor should also weigh medical risks such as diabetes, osteoporosis, and heart disease before selecting a safe and effective treatment option. Sometimes a surgery may not be recommended after weighing the risk factors, medical condition, and likelihood of success.

Getting the help of a qualified spinal technician is important for accurate diagnosis and treatment. This will ensure that the doctor is able to correctly analyze the problem and select correct treatment options.


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Robin BackPainExpert

Physiotherapists & Back Pain Expert

Twenty years ago I was lucky to survive a serious hockey injury. In a sport where big men zoomaround on hard ice and solid wood sticks are slung furiously, a difficult back injury is what every player fears.
It took a long time for me to climb back to a normal life. But when I did, I was determined to spend the rest of his life helping back pain victims everywhere.
As a physiotherapist and back pain expert I have treated thousands of patients over 20 years, built a respected back pain clinic, created the site BackPainSecrets.Com and authored the book “Back Pain Secrets.”
Learn more about me here.