Optimal Treatments for Lumbar Spinal Stenosis

As an orthopedic spine surgeon, Dr. Paul W. McDonough performs procedures on the thoracic, cervical, and lumbar sections of the spine, in addition to advising patients on possible courses of care. In many cases, Paul McDonough, MD, has found that physical therapy can serve as an effective precursor or alternative to surgery for patients. For instance, lumbar spinal stenosis can often be treated with physical therapy.

A condition that causes lower back pain, lumbar spinal stenosis occurs when part of the lower spine narrows. Typically, the degeneration of parts of the spine, such as the facet joints of discs, causes this narrowing. A patient with lumbar spinal stenosis may experience discomfort in the upper thigh or buttocks and pain when walking, standing, or leaning back.

Surgery can alleviate pressure on nerves that cause the pain associated with this condition. However, a research study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine found that patients who underwent surgery and patients who completed a physical therapy program had similar outcomes. Since surgery can pose a higher risk to patient health, physical therapy or other more conservative treatment approaches are a safer first step to address lumbar spinal stenosis. Surgery can be considered after other therapies have failed.

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