Spinal stenosis is a condition that affects the spinal cord, and it can cause pain, numbness, and weakness in the arms and legs. While there is no one-size-fits-all treatment for spinal stenosis, there are a number of alternative treatment options available that may help to relieve symptoms. In this blog we will cover the best evidence based treatments for spinal stenosis that don’t involve surgery, cortisone steroid injections or expensive unproven stem cell procedures.
At my clinic in Tampa, FL I have successfully treated hundreds of cases of cervical and lumbar spinal stenosis with the tools and techniques I am going to discuss.
What is spinal stenosis and what are the symptoms
Spinal stenosis is where the space where nerves travel gets narrow. Think of what happens when we kink a garden hose – you don’t get as much water to come out of the hose. Now imagine your nerve getting a little (or a lot) kinked – it can’t send an electrical signal to your muscles as efficiently and so we end up with symptoms.
Common Symptoms of stenosis are:
- Neck pain and/or arm pain or weakness- this is called cervical stenosis
- Back pain and/or leg pain or weakness – this is lumbar spinal stenosis
- Numbness, tingling or weakness in the arms or legs
- Stiffness, tightness or cramping in the muscles
- Difficulty walking
What causes spinal stenosis?
Well aging is the biggest factor. But stenosis It is often caused by degenerative osteoarthritis of the spine and is most frequently found at L4-L5, L5-S1 and L3-L4.
It can be graded as mild, moderate or severe depending on the degree of narrowing.
Other risk factors for stenosis include family history and genetics.
It is most commonly reported by individuals over the age of 60 years old.
What are the best evidence-based treatments for spinal stenosis that don’t involve surgery
Dry needling and Interventional Acupuncture are one of the most well researched and alternative treatments with a robust evidence base for treatment of spinal stenosis.
A study by Kang et al. PMID: 20698999, showed that using dry needling at the specific level of spinal stenosis showed a 39% reduction in pain from spinal stenosis that lasted for 13 months. This is a profound change and didn’t require the use of harmful corticosteroids.
At my dry needling clinic in Tampa, FL I have pioneered the use of this novel treatment approach and find that about 70% of patients have this type of excellent response rate.
With the combination of electro-acupuncture this treatment can be life changing and does not involve harmful steroid injections, pain medications, muscle relaxers or risky surgery.
How can alternative treatments help to relieve symptoms of spinal stenosis
The use of dry needling for spinal stenosis can help in a number of ways. Some of the mechanisms include neuro-modulation of the medial branch of the nerve that sends painful signals to your brain. We can essentially help “hit the reset” button on how this nerve functions and help the muscles that stabilize your spine at the level of your stenosis function better.
This leads to a long term reduction in pain and the ability to move and function better.
A study published last year titled, “Correlation between severity of spinal stenosis and multifidus atrophy in degenerative lumbar spinal stenosis” found that a strong positive correlation between the severity of multifidus atrophy and the severity of spinal stenosis.
I’ve written a lot about the multifidus muscle (read more here), but a quick overview – the multifidus is a tiny muscle that spans the length of 1-2 vertebral segments. It’s main job is to stabilize our spine. If it is tight and tonic because it’s trying to protect us, or because the opposite side is atrophied, it can cause irritation in the medial branch nerve and in turn cause pain.
Targeting the multifidus with dry needling is an effect strategy for spinal stenosis and can help to significantly improve your pain and discomfort levels.
What is my clinic in Tampa, FL doing to successfully treat spinal stenosis
At my dry needling clinic in Tampa, FL I have performed over 30,000 procedures and treat spinal stenosis on a daily basis. The good news is the vast majority of patients respond well and we can make a significant difference in their functional capacity and reduce pain levels.
How can I find out more about spinal stenosis and the treatment options available to me
If you or someone you know is suffering from spinal stenosis, please contact our clinic today to learn more about how we can help. The first step is to schedule an initial examination where a thorough physical exam is performed and Dr. Hanson can map out a treatment plan to help get you back to all of the things you’re currently unable to do.