If you’re living with the effects of spinal stenosis in your neck or back, you’ve probably asked yourself, “What type of doctor should I see for spinal stenosis treatment?” There are a variety of doctors with varying expertise who can help you treat spinal stenosis, but the type of doctor you should seek out for treatment will depend largely on the nature of your specific condition, the severity and frequency of your symptoms and your overall health.
See your family doctor
Spinal stenosis is a degenerative spine condition characterized by the narrowing of the spinal canal and the compression of the spinal cord or nerve roots. When you’re dealing with the pain, numbness, weakness and tingling in the arms or legs that are often associated with nerve compression, the best doctor to visit initially is your primary care physician (PCP) or family doctor. Whether your doctor specializes in internal medicine or family medicine, he or she should have the ability to perform the tests and exams that can identify most underlying causes of spinal stenosis, such as the development of bone spurs in arthritic spinal facet joints or even a bulging or herniated disc. Once the root cause of spinal stenosis has been determined, a treatment regimen can be prescribed.
See a spine specialist
If your symptoms are particularly severe or your PCP would like to get another doctor’s medical opinion, he or she may refer you to certain spine specialists, such as a neurologist, orthopedist or others. A neurologist is a doctor who specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of nervous system disorders (including the brain, spinal cord and its nerve roots), while an orthopedist focuses on identifying and treating diseases of the musculoskeletal system (including the vertebrae, intervertebral discs and ligaments of the spine).
Regardless of the type of doctor that you see for spinal stenosis treatment, your doctor will probably initially recommend a course of conservative (nonsurgical) treatments. Anti-inflammatory drugs, physical therapy, pain medication, epidural injections, low-impact exercise and other conservative therapies are usually able to mitigate the neck or back pain caused by spinal stenosis. Surgery may only become an option if symptoms persist despite several weeks or months of conservative treatment.