What should I do if I think I have spinal stenosis?

If you believe you are experiencing the effects of spinal stenosis, the first step is to visit your family physician for a full medical examination. Assuming that your pain isn’t debilitating or growing rapidly worse, it’s usually a good idea to exhaust your treatment options at home to ensure that your pain isn’t a result of a simple muscle strain. While you wait for your physician’s appointment, you might attempt to rest, apply hot or cold compresses to the affected area and take over-the-counter muscle relaxants or anti-inflammatories.

Visiting your physician

If your pain doesn’t subside in a couple of days, then you probably need medical attention. At the physician’s office, he or she will likely ask you for your medical history and go over your daily activities to see if there is something in your everyday routine that might be contributing to your pain. From there, your physician will complete a physical examination and, if necessary, schedule an MRI or CT scan at your convenience.

In the event that spinal stenosis is identified as the source of your neck or back pain, you have a number of treatment options. Usually, your physician will first attempt to treat your symptoms conservatively with a series of non-surgical treatments. Some common treatments include:

  • Physical therapy or low-impact exercise
  • Stretching exercises or classes
  • Hydrotherapy
  • Deep tissue massage
  • Chiropractics

When is surgery required?

Spinal stenosis is often the culmination of years of wear and tear on the spinal anatomy, and spine surgery is sometimes necessary to recreate space for the spinal cord or nerves in the spinal canals. Herniated disc material, bone spurs, calcified ligaments and other soft tissue can all cause nerve compression and will need to be addressed if conservative treatments aren’t sufficient.

If you are considering your surgical options, contact Laser Spine Institute to learn how one of our outpatient, minimally invasive procedures might be able to help you find relief from neck and back pain. A no-cost MRI review* is available for those who want to know if they are a candidate for our minimally invasive procedures.

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