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Q. Do I need surgery for spinal stenosis?

Most cases of spinal stenosis can be managed without surgery. A comprehensive and multidisciplinary treatment plan that looks at the patient as a whole will produce the best and most lasting results. This is especially true in an aging population where maintaining an active lifestyle is important for ongoing general health and well-being. Spinal stenosis is a very crippling problem, but a very treatable one.

A recent government study looked at the condition of symptomatic spinal stenosis and the various treatment approaches including oral medications, physical therapy, pain management, and surgery. The study (called the SPORT, or Spine Patient Outcomes Research Trial ) was carried out at 13 centers in 10 states and involved 2,500 patients over a five year period of time. The study was published in the New England Journal of Medicine and subsequently in the Wall Street Journal and was covered on ABC News in the spring of 2008. The results were conclusive that surgery offered the best short and long term results in alleviating pain and returning patients to an active lifestyle including many recreational sports at all ages.