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Is Chiropractic Care for Spinal Stenosis Effective?

If you or a loved one have spinal stenosis, you know how debilitating this condition can be. Here at The Chiropractic Doctors, our chiropractors have successfully helped many patients with spinal stenosis overcome their symptoms without the use of invasive surgery or harmful medications.

From the moment you set foot in our office, our goal is to provide you with the care you need in order to improve your quality of life and help you on your path to total wellness.

Senior man with back pain. Spine physical therapist and paient. chiropractic pain relief therapy.

Is Chiropractic Treatment Effective in the Treatment of Spinal Stenosis?

A chiropractor can help improve and manage many of the processes that created the narrowing of the spinal canal by increasing mobility and improving the function of spinal components. Improving flexibility of restricted spinal segments will increase tissue repair, lymphatic drainage, and blood flow. This can have a profound effect on inflammation and swelling, which can lead to a reduction in symptoms.

The narrowing of the spinal canal can restrict the movement of the nerve roots and spinal cord. During normal extension and flexion of the spine, the spinal cord should move a large amount, but it can become immobile and trapped with spinal stenosis. Chiropractic treatment can help in several ways to improve neural tissue mobility, which will aid in the reduction of symptoms and improve healing. This will help a patient experience a significant reduction in pain symptoms and general discomfort.

A chiropractor will utilize a variety of techniques that can aid in the management and/or repair of some types of spinal stenosis. The exact approach will differ from one patient to the next depending on spinal stenosis type, the severity of the condition, and the patient’s overall health.

Chiropractic treatment offers a non-invasive, all-natural approach and many patients who have turned to chiropractic care have reported significant success.

What is Spinal Stenosis?

This condition occurs when one or more foramina or bony openings within the spine start to narrow, reducing the space for nerves. This condition can occur within the spinal canal or in the intervertebral foramina where the spinal nerves exit the spinal canal. Depending on the severity of the narrowing and the location, over time, the spinal cord or spinal nerves can become compressed. This can result in weakness, cramping, numbness, tingling, and pain.

It’s not uncommon for this condition to go undiagnosed for several years because a person doesn’t show any noticeable symptoms. In cases such as these, the only way to detect this condition is through special imaging. However, since some people don’t present with symptoms, it can be challenging to know when imaging is necessary.

Treatment can vary depending on the type of spinal stenosis and the exact cause.

Spinal Stenosis Locations

There are a couple of ways in which physicians categorize spinal stenosis types. The first way breaks down the type of spinal stenosis by its location:

  • Cervical spinal stenosis affects the upper back region and can cause problems into the arms.
  • Thoracic spinal stenosis affects the middle back region
  • Lumbar spinal stenosis affects the lower back region and can cause problems into the legs.

Additionally, a doctor can also categorize spinal stenosis types by the part of the spinal column that has narrowed.

Types of Spinal Stenosis

Spinal stenosis is a general term for the narrowing of the bony openings within the spine. Depending on the exact location of where the nerve compression and narrowing occurs, there are specific names for spinal stenosis. The most prevalent types of spinal stenosis include central canal stenosis, lateral stenosis, and foraminal stenosis.

Foraminal Stenosis

The bony opening where a spinal nerve exits the spinal canal between a couple of adjacent vertebrae is called the intervertebral foramen. When one or several of the foramina narrows, it’s referred to as foraminal stenosis. With this type of stenosis, the spinal nerve does not have much space and can become dysfunctional, painful, or pinched.

This type of stenosis can occur in any of the foramina throughout the spine, however, it often occurs in the lumbar spine. In some cases, it can occur in the cervical spine.

Lateral Stenosis

Stenosis that occurs in the back of the spinal canal where nerve roots branch off is called lateral stenosis or lateral recess stenosis.

The terms lateral stenosis and foraminal stenosis are often used interchangeably since both refer to stenosis that occurs laterally of the spinal canal.

Central Canal Stenosis

The bony opening in the center of the vertebra that protects the spinal cord is called the vertebral foramen. When one of these vertebral narrows it’s called central canal stenosis. With this type of stenosis, the spinal cord can become compressed, which can result in dysfunction and pain.

Central canal stenosis often occurs in the cervical or lumbar spine.

Spinal Stenosis Symptoms

The most common area affected by this condition is within the lumbar vertebrae. Often, people will have symptoms such as chronic pain, tingling, or numbness in the feet and legs, cramping in the legs, and poor bladder and/or bowel control.

Other signs of spinal stenosis can include:

  • Pain with walking, especially when walking up or down stairs, ramps, or hills.
  • Patients often experience improvement in pain by leaning forward or sitting.
  • Acute low-back pain
  • Chronic low-back pain
  • Chronic neck pain
  • Leg symptoms include leg pain and weakness

Spinal stenosis in the neck or cervical spine is less common, but it’s also far more dangerous since it involves the direct compression of the spinal cord. Spinal stenosis around the spinal cord can lead to the above symptoms, in addition to creating radiating tingling, numbness, or pain in the hands and arms, and severe body weakness. It can also cause complete or partial body paralysis.

What Causes Spinal Stenosis?

Spinal Stenosis

This condition is most commonly caused by osteoarthritis. Osteoarthritis is caused by the gradual wear and tear on the joints due to misalignment, repetitive stresses and acute

injuries. The most common cause of osteoarthritis of the spine is the misalignment or lack of motion of the vertebrae.

Osteoarthritis causes bone overgrowth called osteophytes or bone spurs. These bony growths narrow the spinal canal, compressing the spinal nerve or spinal cord.

Other common causes of stenosis include:

  • Previous surgery or injury to the spine
  • Cysts or tumors
  • Disc herniation
  • Poor posture
  • Thickened ligaments that support the vertebrae

Although traditional medicine can provide symptomatic relief, it doesn’t always prevent the progression of the degenerative process or reduce the pressure applied to the nervous system. Chiropractic treatment and other alternative therapies can help minimize the pressure placed on the nerves and can reduce pain levels and restore motion.

Who’s at Risk of Spinal Stenosis?

People at risk of this condition include people who sit for a majority of their time and people over the age of fifty. Some people may also be born with a narrow spinal cord canal. While not common, this can lead to spinal stenosis in the future.

This medical condition can affect areas such as the legs, shoulders, hands, ankles, and knees, as well as the spine.

Traditional Medical Care for Spinal Stenosis

There are many treatment options for people living with cervical and lumbar spinal stenosis, such as steroid injections, surgery for lumbar stenosis or cervical stenosis, and rehabilitative exercises. However, these types of traditional medical care will not prevent the progression of the degenerative process or correct the cause of spinal stenosis. A primary care physician may also recommend exercise or physical therapy to strengthen the muscles and support a person’s ability to function with less discomfort and more effectively.

Pain Medicine

Treatment for lumbar and cervical stenosis often includes medication to control and manage pain.

Pain medicine, including prescription and over-the-counter pain relievers and anti-inflammatory medications, can help relieve the pain. Unfortunately, pain medicine will only provide temporary relief and will simply mask the symptoms. Additionally, pain medicine can also cause adverse effects and may lead to opioid dependence.0

Steroid Injections

Epidural steroid injections and cortisone steroid injections can also relieve pain, but these injections also only provide temporary relief and cause a number of side effects.

Spinal Stenosis Surgery

In cases of severe stenosis, health care professionals may recommend spinal surgery. During spine surgery, pieces of the lamina, which are vertebrae, are removed, and then the vertebrae are fused together. Bone grafts and/or bone grafts substitutes are needed to form a solid bridge between the vertebra segments.

Unfortunately, the results of spinal stenosis surgery tend to vary from patient to patient, but one thing is certain for all patients, painful surgery will not cure spinal stenosis. Spinal surgery also involves a lengthy and painful recovery period.

Chiropractic & Manual Therapies-Non-Surgical Treatment Methods

Chiropractic treatment and other alternative treatments can be more effective than medication, steroid injections, or surgery.

After discussing your medical history and after a physical exam, a chiropractor may order magnetic resonance imaging to investigate your back pain and identify all painful areas.

They may also recommend other therapies that will complement chiropractic care, including massage therapy and physical therapy, which can help relieve chronic pain. A chiropractor can work with a patient’s physical therapist to formulate a care plan that has the patient’s best interest in mind.

Chiropractic care for lumbar and cervical stenosis is a gentle, effective, and non-invasive treatment option for people who are searching for a natural approach to managing severe pain, without the use of harmful pain medicine or painful surgery.

Techniques used can include:

  • Flexion-distraction techniques
  • Spinal decompression therapy
  • Traction methods
  • Chiropractic spinal adjustments
  • Rehabilitative exercises

Chiropractic manipulation and other techniques used can provide symptom relief and improvement in pain, without the risks of surgery or injections, and without the side effects of harmful medication. Chiropractic adjustments are a natural, non-invasive way to help stenosis that’s aggravated or caused by a spinal misalignment. Manual adjustments can correct vertebral misalignment and disc displacement so that the facet joints, ligaments, back muscles, and bones experience less stress. With other therapeutic techniques such as physical therapy and massage therapy, soft tissues can feel better and heal faster.

At The Chiropractic Doctors, we implement a multi-faceted approach in spinal stenosis treatment. We will create a treatment plan that may include chiropractic manipulation, exercise plans, therapeutic massage, and nutritional guidance to help you manage your condition and eliminate or relieve symptoms such as neck pain, leg pain, chronic low-back pain, acute low-back pain, and other symptoms. We’re committed to helping patients with spinal stenosis get long-term and immediate relief.

Alleviate Symptoms with Chiropractic Treatment and Personalized Care

Chiropractic care takes a natural approach to treatment. This means that we’ll consider your symptoms, in addition to what your body feels and the present state of your spine. We will also pay close attention to what worsens or improves your symptoms, to formulate a personalized treatment plan that will help you reach your wellness goals.

After we have determined the source of your pain, we will work diligently to reduce nerve compression that’s caused by spinal stenosis.

Our chiropractic therapy seeks to increase the available space within the spinal canal for the spinal cord. We can accomplish this by relieving tension in tight muscles and by addressing spinal disc displacement. We’ll also focus on reducing or eliminating nerve pressure. This treatment approach will help a patient to experience fewer symptoms.

Benefits of Chiropractic Care

There are many reasons chiropractic care is preferred for treating spinal stenosis over more traditional treatments:

  • Faster recovery time
  • No need to take addictive pain medication
  • No pain from surgery
  • No anesthesia required
  • Patients often experience an increase in mobility immediately after a chiropractic adjustment
  • Many recent studies have found that chiropractic treatment can improve pain symptoms caused by spinal stenosis.

Why Choose The Chiropractic Doctors?

At The Chiropractic Doctors, we put you first. We’ve seen spinal stenosis firsthand and know how debilitating it can be. We also have a deep understanding of what treatments can help relieve pain symptoms and improve mobility and flexibility. During treatment, we’ll explain what we’re doing every step of the way and ensure you approve and understand your treatment options. It’s important to us that every patient is treated with respect and dignity.

We’re dedicated to relieving a patient’s painful symptoms and improving their quality of life. Our knowledgeable and compassionate staff have years of experience in chiropractic treatment and pain relief techniques. Our state-of-the-art facility allows us to create a comprehensive treatment strategy that will help you achieve your wellness goals. Our chiropractic team will provide the best treatment possible so you can begin living your best life.

Contact Us Today

There’s no reason to live with and suffer from the effects of spinal stenosis. Let the understanding and friendly staff at The Chiropractic Doctors schedule a time for you to come in for an evaluation. Make the team at The Chiropractic Doctors part of your wellness routine and avoid painful and expensive surgery and harmful medications. Contact our office today to schedule an exam.

Call our office to book your next appointment, and discover why The Chiropractic Doctors are consistently rated 5 stars by your neighbors!


This article was reviewed and approved by Dr. Matthew Phinney.

If you enjoyed this article, check out these other articles about chiropractic care:
The Importance of Rest
What Happens if I Skip a Chiropractic Appointment?
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