Taking medication for spinal narrowing

By Michael Perry, M.D.

Medication for spinal narrowing is one of many treatment options available to treat this condition. Spinal narrowing, also called spinal stenosis, most often occurs as a result of injury or age-related degeneration that constricts nerve pathways and results in painful symptoms. The discomfort and limited mobility resulting from these symptoms can have a serious effect on your life, taking you away from the people and activities you love.

Upon diagnosis of spinal narrowing, many doctors will prescribe medication as part of a larger plan of conservative treatment options. The goal of this initial round of treatment is to relieve symptoms and regain enough mobility to comfortably engage in everyday activity. Learning more about the range of medication options to treat this condition can help you be a more informed patient and make a decision with the best chance of returning you to a healthy, active life.

Types of medication for spinal narrowing

The pain of spinal narrowing, often caused by bone spurs, bulging discs, herniated discs, spondylolisthesis or arthritis of the spine, occurs when spinal nerves or the spinal cord itself become compressed. The following medications may help you manage symptoms of tingling, burning, numbness or weakness that can be felt in your neck, back or extremities:

  • Analgesics — any drug used as a painkiller; common oral analgesics include acetaminophen and aspirin
  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs — a type of analgesic that blocks certain enzymes in the body that contribute to swelling; ibuprofen is an example of an NSAID
  • Oral steroids — powerful, non-narcotic anti-inflammatory medication that should only be prescribed for short periods of time; examples include prednisone and dexamethasone
  • Epidural steroid injections — the steroid cortisone is often injected into the epidural space surrounding the spine to temporarily reduce inflammation and pain associated with neural compression

Integrating additional treatment methods

If your physician has confirmed a diagnosis of spinal stenosis and has recommended that you take over-the-counter or prescription medication for spinal narrowing, you may also want to inquire about additional treatment methods. These could include lifestyle changes, low-impact exercise, physical therapy and massage. The combination of symptom relief and methods to strengthen supporting muscles and take pressure off the spine allows many patients to enjoy lasting relief without having to resort to surgery.

If weeks or months of conservative treatments do not improve your neck or back pain, your physician may suggest that you consider surgery to treat spinal narrowing. If this is the case, reach out to Laser Spine Institute. We specialize in minimally invasive outpatient spine surgery that is an alternative to the risks and lengthy recovery of an open spine surgery.

Contact us to learn more and to get a no-cost MRI review* to see if you may be a candidate for one of our procedures.