Treatments of Spinal Stenosis

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Once you have identified the signs and symptoms of spinal stenosis you should make an appointment to see your general physician or back specialist. During your appointment you will be asked to provide your medical history as well as an accounting of your current symptoms. Once this process is complete it is time to start the treatment process.

Treatments of spinal stenosis are not intended to actually “cure” because there is, as of yet, no way to widen the spinal canal. Instead these treatments are aimed toward relieving the various symptoms of spinal stenosis. For many patients more than one form of treatment may be required to treat the pain, muscle cramping and other symptoms.

It is your responsibility to work with your physician to come up a treatment plan that you can (and will) follow.

Drug Treatments of Spinal Stenosis

Since one of the main goal of spinal stenosis treatments is to treat the symptoms, some form of medication will usually be prescribed to relieve pain or reduce swelling. Be sure to ask your doctor about any possible side effects of these drugs, as well as any prohibited drug interactions.

Muscle relaxants are prescribed to reduce muscle spasms and cramping associated to nearly all types of spinal stenosis.

NSAIDs are non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, which simply are a combination of pill—like ibuprofen or naproxen—that relieve pain and reduce swelling. These are often available over the counter and can be cheaper than prescription drugs.

Anti-seizure drugs are often prescribed to reduce any pain associated with damaged nerves as often over the counter pills cannot relieve this pain.

Tricyclic antidepressants may also be prescribed for neuropathic pain, but they may not be right for elderly due to the adverse side effects.

Oral opioids may be given for severe pain, however they are habit forming and you may be required to see an addiction specialist during the course of the pills.

Steroid injections are used as temporary pain relief for swollen or irritated nerve roots. These injections can reduce inflammation around the narrowing, but because they can weaken the bones treatment is limited to several times per year.

Remember that mediation is just a short-term treatment so combine with this other forms of treatment to find a combination that works.


Physical therapy is often recommended to treat spinal stenosis and positive results have been seen even though no scientific evidence supports this claim. Physical therapy can however improve balance and strength, while maintaining a certain level of flexibility. Physical therapy exercises will often include those to strengthen the core and back muscles along with aerobic exercise.

Massage therapy may provide relief to some spinal stenosis patients, as it has been shown effective at reducing tension in the muscles. Additionally massage therapy can be highly effective to reduce muscle spasms and cramps.

Acupuncture and acupressure may also prove effective in treating certain symptoms of spinal stenosis. Ask your therapist if this method can help treat your spinal stenosis.

Chiropractic treatments may work to help treat a limited range of motion by manipulating the spine. Traction or electro-therapy may be employed by a chiropractor to treat spinal stenosis, just be sure to always vocalize your level of pain throughout treatment.


Surgery should always be the absolute last resort as a treatment of spinal stenosis since it is not always a permanent fix. The risks associated with surgery are not worth it for most patients since chances are high that symptoms will still occur. Even if the source of the pain has been removed, the pain may be reduced but there also may be no improvements whatsoever.

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In some instances however surgery is recommended and warranted when the pain persists and all other treatment plans have failed. If you have begun to lose range of motion or feeling in an extremity, you may require surgery to relieve pressure on the spinal cord or the nerves in the spine. Be sure you are aware of all the risks associated with surgery as well as the prognosis for future pain before reaching a decision.

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