Spinal stenosis

Spinal stenosis is a narrowing in the spinal canal or where nerve roots exist. Bone or tissue – or both – can take up space in the spine and put pressure on the nerves located in the spinal canal. This includes disc bulging, osteophytes (bone spurs), thickening of ligaments, fat or tumors. Generally, this condition is seen in older adults.


Spinal stenosis symptoms can vary, ranging from low back pain to a vague, dull leg pain that becomes worse with walking and better with stopping and sitting down or leaning forward. You may experience no pain at all or more severe pain and difficulties including:

  • Numbness or tingling in a foot or leg
  • Increased back pain
  • Stiffness in the legs and thighs
  • Bowel and bladder control problems (extreme cases)

Spinal stenosis


Your doctor will ask you questions about your past health and back pain during a physical exam. You will likely undergo imaging studies that can include X-rays, a CT scan or an MRI.


Spinal stenosis treatment may vary, depending on the location and severity of your pain. At HonorHealth, you'll start with a conservative approach to your treatment plan that may include:

Physical therapy:

  • Numerous studies indicate physical therapy is key in reducing/relieving back pain
  • Help strengthen and coordinate core muscles
  • Assess and correct biomechanical issues

Lifestyle modifications:

  • Diet: Reducing weight reduces the force on the spine
  • Exercise: Exercise promotes blood flow and core muscle strength and coordination
  • Smoking cessation: Nicotine constricts blood vessels, which decreases blood flow

Pain medications:

  • NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs).
    • Ibuprofen, Naproxen, Celebrex, Mobic
    • Decreases inflammation
    • Avoid long-term use. Side effects may include: ulcers/bleeding, kidney disease, heart attack, stroke
  • Muscle relaxers
  • Neuropathic medications

You may need a lumbar epidural steroid injection or surgery if your symptoms persist or get worse.

Schedule an appointment. Find a neurosurgeon or physical rehabilitation medicine physician in the Phoenix area or call 623-580-5800 for a referral.

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