How Noninvasive Treatments Can Improve Your Spinal Stenosis

How Noninvasive Treatments Can Improve Your Spinal Stenosis

There are several nonsurgical options available to treat spinal stenosis. In fact, most cases of spinal stenosis improve without the need for surgery. Often, finding an effective solution for spinal stenosis requires a combination of therapies, such as medication combined with physical therapy.

At The Spine Institute of Southeast Texas, board-certified orthopedic surgeon Thomas Jones II, MD, specializes in minimally-invasive spine surgery and provides comprehensive care for a range of spine conditions, including spinal stenosis.

When nonsurgical treatments fail to provide adequate relief, you may be a candidate for spine surgery. Before you discuss the possibility of surgery, it’s wise to explore nonsurgical treatment options.

What is spinal stenosis?

A bundle of nerves runs through your spinal canal, a hollow space formed by your vertebrae. Spinal stenosis occurs when the spinal canal narrows, compressing the spinal cord or the nerves that travel to your muscles. The irritation from the compression causes back pain and numbness. It can also cause weakness in your lower back and legs.

Depending on the severity and location of your spinal stenosis, your doctor may recommend a variety of treatment approaches. Many cases improve with noninvasive treatments. 

Physical therapy

Physical therapy is a mainstay in easing the pain of spinal stenosis. Often, people suffering from spinal stenosis avoid physical activity in an effort to avoid aggravating the pain, but this can ultimately make your symptoms worse. Regular exercise, under the supervision of a physical therapist, can help rebuild your strength, balance, and flexibility.

Your physical therapist will work with you to go through progressive exercises that help modify your posture to reduce the compression on the nerves of the spine. The exercises are simple, easy to perform and can be done at home once you receive appropriate instruction.

Exercises for alleviating spinal stenosis pain strengthen your core muscles in your abdomen and thighs and stretch the muscles in your back. It may surprise you to know how much relief you can get through a targeted physical therapy program.

Additionally, exercises for spinal stenosis strengthen and stabilize the cervical spine, (neck) which reduces pain for patients who have cervical stenosis. Keep in mind that physical therapy does not address the anatomical causes of spinal stenosis.

Corticosteroid injections

Corticosteroid injections contain powerful anti-inflammatory medication that reduces swelling and irritation of the nerves and spinal cord to bring you some much-needed relief. This can help you feel comfortable enough to begin the physical therapy you need for long-term relief.

When treating spinal stenosis cortical steroids are typically injected into the epidural space — a space that surrounds certain nerve roots. A course of three injections are typically given over a period of several weeks. Once the medication takes effect it can provide significant short-term relief.


Neuroleptic medications block certain receptors in the nervous system. This class of medications can help to stabilize overactive neurons in the spinal cord to relieve pain. When treating spinal stenosis with neuroleptics, the medication is taken daily. It can take several weeks to achieve relief.

Many patients with spinal stenosis are able to manage their symptoms with a combination of lifestyle changes and nonsurgical therapies. If those things fail to provide adequate relief, Dr. Jones can discuss minimally invasive surgical options. The goal of any spinal stenosis treatment is to relieve your pain and restore your quality of life, using the least invasive approach possible. 

If you’ve been diagnosed with spinal stenosis, we can help. Contact our office to schedule a visit with Dr. Jones to discuss your symptoms and treatment options. We look forward to discussing how we can help you feel better and enjoy life to the fullest. 

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