Can Spinal Stenosis Be Reversed?

The Short Answer from a pain management specialist

Q: Can spinal stenosis be reversed?

A: While we can’t erase this common, painful condition, we have many effective ways to treat it.

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Spinal stenosis develops over time. It can be caused by degeneration of a number of structures that make up the back. Many of these structural changes are asymptomatic for decades, even though we can see the changes on imaging studies.

As the rigid portions of the spine narrow, symptoms can manifest when the spinal nerves or spinal cord become pinched. Often, pain with spinal stenosis occurs when people walk or stand for long periods of time, causing them to curtail their activities.

Noninvasive, minimally invasive and surgical options are available to ease pain from spinal stenosis:

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  • Analgesics: Physicians can prescribe medications, individualized to address each patient’s unique pain problem.
  • Physical therapy: Physical therapists can prescribe flexion exercises and teach you how to walk in a way that opens up the spinal canal. For some patients, this can relieve the pressure on pinched nerves.
  • Interventions: Pain management specialists can offer injections to diminish pain and ease inflammation. Other strategies include minimally invasive procedures aimed at addressing structural problems that contribute to the spinal narrowing.
  • Surgery: Spine surgeons can remove portions of the bone, joint or disc that are pinching the spinal nerves.

—Pain management specialist Robert B. Bolash, MD

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