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We hear this a lot…

“I have Spinal Stenosis. Do I have to live with it for the rest of my life?”

Dr. Sakai’s response:

Spinal stenosis is a condition where the spinal canal becomes narrow, and may put pressure on the spinal cord and nerves. Unfortunately, once you develop spinal stenosis, it is generally not a condition that improves over time. On the other hand, the progression of the severity of stenosis is generally very gradual, usually over the course of years or decades. Spinal stenosis is a very common condition, and most people will develop some degree of stenosis over time due to wear and tear.

Symptoms of spinal stenosis can be managed with conservative treatment including physical therapy, medications for neuropathic pain, and epidural steroid injections. Physical therapy should focus on strengthening and stabilizing the core. These treatments are not a cure, but often are enough to minimize the symptoms so that you can continue to live a good quality of life.  Surgery may be an option in some cases, but one should not rush into surgery because of the risks of complications, with ongoing or worsening pain even after surgery. The only time surgery is not an option is if you develop any significant sign of nerve damage, such as weakness or loss of control of bowel and bladder function. Keep in mind that proper diagnosis is important before pursuing treatment. Even if an MRI report indicates that you have spinal stenosis, it may not necessarily be the cause of your pain.

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