Treatment options for spinal stenosis include physical therapy, steroid injections, certain medications, use of walking aids and use of hot and cold packs, notes Mayo Clinic. In some cases, surgery may be necessary to relieve pressure on the nerve roots or spine.
A physical therapist teaches the patient exercises that help maintain spine stability, increase strength, maintain flexibility and aid balance, says Mayo Clinic. A corticosteroid injection may help relieve pressure and inflammation, but frequent injections can damage the connective and bone tissue. Medications used to control pain in spinal stenosis patients include nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, opioids, antidepressants, muscle relaxants and anti-seizure drugs. NSAIDS are available over the counter and include options such as naproxen and ibuprofen, which reduce both pain and inflammation. In some cases, assistive walking devices such as canes and walkers can provide stability while allowing patients to maintain a comfortable walking position.
Doctors may recommend surgery if conservative treatments have failed and the patient is both disabled by symptoms and in otherwise good health, as confirmed by Mayo Clinic. Although surgery normally alleviates spinal stenosis symptoms, it can occasionally leave them unchanged or worsen them. Risks include blood clots in the leg, neurological deterioration, infection and damage to the membrane surrounding the spinal cord.