Spinal stenosis — medical physicians to help treat spinal stenosis
If you are experiencing chronic neck or back pain, and you suspect that you have spinal stenosis, you should schedule an appointment with your doctor to have your condition diagnosed.
Generally, spinal stenosis is found in the lumbar portion (lower back) of the spine. Over time, as the body ages and the components of the spine gradually degenerate, the spinal canal may begin to narrow, causing a nerve in the spinal cord to be compressed. Natural degeneration of the spine is the most common cause of spinal stenosis. However, other spine conditions such as a herniated disc or bone spur might also contribute to spinal stenosis by protruding into the spinal canal.
As you begin your journey to diagnose and treat your spinal stenosis, you should know the role of each medical care provider with whom you will likely meet.
The Role of Your Primary Care Physician
If you suspect that you have spinal stenosis, the first appointment you should make is with your primary care physician. Talk to your physician about your symptoms and pain, and let your physician determine the next steps for your treatment.
If your physician suspects that you might have spinal stenosis or another spine condition, you might be referred to have an MRI or CT scan to confirm the diagnosis. You and your physician should meet to review your MRI or CT scan to determine the cause of your pain and the severity of your condition. Once you have this information, you can collaborate to make a plan for the next steps in your treatment process.
Types of Spinal Stenosis Specialists
If your physician diagnoses you with spinal stenosis, you have a few options for your next step to find pain relief. A variety of doctors specialize in treating neck and back conditions like spinal stenosis, including:
- Orthopedists — Orthopedists specialize in conditions of the musculoskeletal system, which includes the bones, joints, tendons, muscles and ligaments. Someone with spinal stenosis caused by a herniated disc, bulging disc, bone spurs or spinal osteoarthritis may seek treatment from an orthopedist.
- Orthopedic surgeons — An orthopedic surgeon is an orthopedist who performs surgery. You will likely only need to see an orthopedic surgeon if your stenosis symptoms do not improve with conservative treatments like pain medication, physical therapy and behavior modification.
- Neurologists — A neurologist treats disorders of the brain, spinal cord and spinal nerves. While this type of doctor may treat conditions like Parkinson’s disease, speech disorders and epilepsy, a neurologist can also address spinal stenosis that is causing compression of, or damage to, the spinal nerve roots or the spinal cord.
We strongly recommend that you research each doctor before visiting. There are several great websites for physician reviews that can help you make a decision about the medical professional you want to help treat your spinal stenosis.