Spinal stenosis affects millions of Americans predominately as they enter the fifth decade and older. It is a condition that results mostly from spinal arthritis causing bony and soft tissue overgrowth which then pinches on nerve roots as they come off of the spinal cord and attempt to leave the spinal canal.
Symptoms of spinal stenosis tend to vary between individuals. It may cause some buttock and hip pain, or it may cause pain that radiates down a person’s legs into the thighs or past the knee to the feet. Because the pinching of nerves may be positional, the symptoms may wax and wane on any given day or may come on for a few weeks and then subside. Inflammation may spark up and then die down every few months.
Undergoing surgery for symptomatic spinal stenosis is a quality of life decision. No one ever died from having spinal stenosis, so whether or not to have a laminectomy performed is completely an elective decision. Most of the time, non-surgical pain management options work very well for individuals.
First line treatment for symptomatic spinal stenosis should involve over-the-counter medications such as Tylenol and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory’s. These should be taken according to the manufacturer’s recommended dosing. As a low risk, inexpensive treatment, these may provide excellent relief for spinal stenosis pain that is mild to moderate.
For those periods when the symptoms are severe, short term narcotic medications provide excellent relief. It is not a good idea to take opiate medications for a chronic duration for spinal stenosis. The risks of those medications start to outweigh the benefits including potential tolerance and addiction issues.
Additional treatment for symptomatic spinal stenosis may include neurologic modifying agents such as gabapentin, otherwise known as Neurontin. It is unknown exactly how this medication works for relieving the pain from pinched nerves, but it does work fairly well. There is a newer medication that is similar called Lyrica, and they are low risk non-narcotic prescription medications that may provide excellent symptomatic relief from the pain of spinal stenosis. Some studies have displayed their benefits.
Physical therapy and chiropractic treatment also can provide excellent symptomatic relief. The chiropractic manipulations can un-pinch nerves that are causing pain. This is not a permanent solution, they can provide some relief, especially if performed on a regular basis. Physical therapy can strengthen up the muscles around the spine and relieve some of the pain as well. Electrical stimulation can help modify the way that the brain perceives pain signals. This can be applied during treatment sessions, or it can also be applied by the patient themselves with a TENS unit.
Spinal decompression therapy is another nonsurgical treatment that has been shown to help provide nerve root decompression. As spinal stenosis is a mechanical problem, spinal decompression therapy does not provide a permanent solution. But it is low risk, FDA cleared, and the cost is less than 5% that of spine surgery.
Interventional pain management treatments with epidural steroid injections are the gold standard for pain management injections for spinal stenosis. Multiple studies have shown them to be extremely beneficial for the condition, and over 75% of individuals with symptomatic spinal stenosis obtain relief from these cortisone injections.
There are some pain management injections involving nonsteroidal medications, but there is not extensive research to show their benefit for spinal stenosis. The epidural cortisone injections may provide weeks to months of pain relief, and can then be repeated as necessary for the condition.
If you suffer from symptomatic spinal stenosis, let Arizona Pain Specialists help you. These Award-Winning and Board-Certified pain management doctors and chiropractors offer comprehensive pain management for spinal stenosis. The treatments range from medication management to chiropractic treatment as well as physical rehabilitation and interventional pain treatments.
Each location serving Chandler, Scottsdale, Glendale, Mesa, Phoenix, Avondale, Tempe, Fountain Hills and more also has a spinal decompression therapy table as well.
Call today at 602-507-6550 for more information and scheduling, sometimes same day appointments are available!