Spinal stenosis, or narrowing of the spine, will affect an estimated 2.4 million Americans by 2021.
It's a common cause of back pain in people over 50 and is often treated with surgery. However, some believe that other, less invasive options can be just as effective at relieving symptoms and returning mobile function.
Treatments for spinal stenosis
Spinal stenosis is a complicated diagnosis for most patients and their physicians. It's often difficult to pinpoint the cause of the stenosis, which also makes treating it complex.
The narrowing of the spine causes pain in the legs and butt as the patient walks. While it doesn't cause paralysis, it definitely has a negative impact on quality of life.
Because of the condition's complexity and the delicate nature of the spine, surgery as a form of treatment is usually a last resort.
When you get to the point where symptoms are intolerable, you may consider surgery. There are a lot of other options to try before you get to that point.
A course of treatment is usually determined by a discussion between the patient and physician. Many patients are surprised by the amount of non-surgical options available, including: physical therapy, cortisone injections, consistent exercise or yoga, nerve blocks, or alternative medicine. Physicians recommend all non-surgical options before ultimately offering surgery as a treatment.
Since surgery is considered only as a last resort and comes with risk, this is good news for patients.
While the outcomes are certainly interesting, each case is different and some cases are better suited to one treatment over another.
Educating patients on what consistent exercise can offer - how it benefits the patient - is important.
The outcome of alternative methods versus surgery is different for each patient depending on the patient's engagement and the surgeon's technique, among other variables.