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

If you believe you are dealing with potential spinal stenosis symptoms, the first step is to visit your family doctor for a full physical examination. Patients often suspect spinal stenosis or another spine condition in cases of neck or back pain that doesn’t improve after a few days or a week of rest. If localized pain is accompanied by radiating symptoms like tingling, numbness or muscle weakness, it can be another indication that the underlying cause is spinal stenosis. While you wait for your doctor’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 doctor

Your doctor will likely ask you questions about your medical history, your symptoms 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 doctor will complete a physical examination and, if necessary, schedule diagnostic imagery like an MRI or CT scan.

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 doctor will first attempt to treat your symptoms conservatively with a series of nonsurgical therapies. Some common treatments include:

  • Physical therapy or low-impact exercise
  • Stretching exercises or classes
  • Hydrotherapy
  • Deep tissue massage
  • Chiropractic care
  • Over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medication

When is surgery required?

Spinal stenosis can very often be successfully treated with nonsurgical methods, but 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 in allowing for a return to a normal quality of life.

If you are considering your surgical options, contact Laser Spine Institute to learn how our minimally invasive outpatient spine surgery might be able to help you find relief from neck and back pain. A free MRI review* is available for those who want to know if they are a candidate for our minimally invasive procedures.

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