Is There Any Advantage to Surgery for Spinal Stenosis?
There's no miracle cure for spinal stenosis, a narrowing of the spinal canal. Age-related changes cause the opening around the spinal nerves to get smaller, putting pressure on the spinal nerves. The result can be back and leg pain making walking difficult.
Surgery can be done to remove bone and take the pressure off the nerves. But surgery has its own risks and possible problems. And since spinal stenosis is a problem most common in older adults, it may not be worth it to them to consider surgery.
Research shows that using pain relieving medications and exercises gives patients steady improvement. They are more likely to get faster pain relief with surgery but in the end, the results are about the same.
These results were based on a study comparing two groups of patients with moderate spinal stenosis was reported by researchers in Finland. The average age of the patients was 62 years old. They all had chronic low back pain that radiated into the buttocks and down the legs. Symptoms were made worse by walking, a classic sign of spinal stenosis.
Other studies have shown similar outcomes. The results of several studies suggests patients should try at least a six-month trial of conservative care before having surgery. The advantage of surgery disappears after eight to 10 years and may not be worth it to some people.
Refining Stenosis Options. The BACK Letter. February 2007. Vol. 22. No. 2.Pp. 13, 22.