Spinal Stenosis: What Is it and What Do We Do About It?

Spinal stenosis can be a painful condition to live with. It involves the narrowing of the spaces within the spine. Because nerve roots travel through the spinal column, any narrowing can result in compression of one or more nerves. Nerve compression is associated with symptoms like numbness, radiating pain, tingling, weakness, and adjustments to one’s gait. The range of symptoms that occur correlate with the spinal segment affected. For example, cervical stenosis could cause symptoms in the arms or hands. Lumbar stenosis can cause symptoms in the low back and legs. Sometimes, though, spinal stenosis doesn’t cause any symptoms. If it does, we must consider the value of various treatment options. 

Physical Therapy

Physical therapy is a type of rehabilitation that can improve physical symptoms by building muscle strength and enhancing the stability and flexibility of the spine. Carefully, curated exercises and therapeutic modalities such as ultrasound can improve a person’s balance and gait so they do not worsen their spinal condition. The spine benefits greatly from strong core and back muscles, which physical therapists promote through periodic sessions, and which patients enhance by performing those exercises at home. 

Corticosteroid Injections

Injection therapy may go hand-in-hand with physical therapy in some cases. The purpose of corticosteroid injections for spinal stenosis is to reduce inflammation and pain more quickly .This form of treatment can improve comfort for up to 3 months at a time and may be repeated after 90 days if needed. With improved comfort comes better ability to manage physical therapy exercises. 


Doctors, even spinal surgeons, prefer to rely on medication and physical therapy as long as they are achieving positive results. If they are not, then surgery must be considered. Neither medication nor physical therapy can address the structural components of spinal stenosis. For some patients, surgery to improve the space within the spinal canal makes the most sense. Surgical treatment for spinal stenosis may include discectomy, decompression and fusion, or laminectomy. Each of these procedures aims to alleviate nerve compression so the patient can regain comfort and mobility. 

If nonsurgical modalities are no longer working for your neck or back pain, you can benefit from a comprehensive consultation with an experienced spinal surgeon. Contact our NYC office at 212-606-1004 to schedule your appointment.

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