There are both surgical and nonsurgical options to treat spinal stenosis. Common nonsurgical options include analgesics, injections, and physical therapy if there are no severe or progressive nerve issues. However, if nonsurgical treatment does not relieve pain, surgery may be recommended instead. The MILD© procedure is another, often better, option than surgery. MILD© is a minimally invasive, FDA cleared procedure.
Nonsurgical Methods of Treating Spinal Stenosis
In the absence of severe or progressive nerve involvement, a doctor may prescribe one or more of the following non-surgical options to treat spinal stenosis:
- Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as aspirin, naproxen, and others, to reduce inflammation and relieve pain.
- Analgesics, such as acetaminophen to relieve pain.
- Corticosteroid injections into the outermost of the membranes covering the spinal cord and nerve roots to reduce inflammation and treat acute pain that radiates to the hips or down a leg.
- Anesthetic injections or nerve blocks.
- Restricted activity.
- Prescribed exercises and/or physical therapy to maintain motion of the spine, strengthen abdominal and back muscles, and build endurance.
- A lumbar brace or corset to provide some support and help regain mobility. This approach is sometimes used for patients with weak abdominal muscles or older patients with degeneration at several levels of the spine.
Alternative Spinal Stenosis Treatment Options
Alternative or complementary treatments for spinal stenosis that are not presently considered part of conventional medicine include chiropractic treatment and acupuncture. These alternative spinal stenosis treatment methods work for some but may not be advisable for others. Healthcare providers may suggest these therapies in addition to more traditional treatments or as stand-alone options.
Using Surgery to Treat Spinal Stenosis
When nonsurgical treatments for spinal stenosis do not work to relieve pain, doctors may recommend surgery. However, surgery might be considered immediately if a patient has numbness or weakness that interferes with walking, impaired bowel or bladder function, or other neurological involvement. Factors that can determine whether a patient needs surgery include:
- The effectiveness of nonsurgical treatments
- The extent of the patient's pain
- The patient's preference.
MILD© is a procedure where a trained physician makes a tiny incision in the back, and removes small pieces of bone and excess ligament that cause the narrowing of the spinal canal.
The MILD© procedure is performed in less than one hour and patients are able to resume light activities in just a few days. No general anesthesia is required and no implants or stiches are left behind.