A recent study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine indicates that the use of physical therapy in treating lumbar spinal stenosis is comparable to surgical intervention. Lumbar spinal stenosis is defined as narrowing of the central spinal canal or the foramen where the nerve roots exit. This narrowing puts pressure on the spinal cord and potentially the exiting nerves which can lead to symptoms such as pain, numbness, tingling, or weakness of the legs and feet. Lumbar stenosis is typically worse with standing or walking, and relieved with sitting
This study was conducted from November of 2000 through September of 2007. The purpose of the study was to compare physical therapy to surgical intervention in patients with spinal stenosis. This was a randomized controlled study which included 147 patients.
The conclusions of this study were that at two years the physical therapy and surgical groups demonstrated the same amount of improvement. This study confirms that nonsurgical treatment including physical therapy should be maximized in treating lumbar spinal stenosis prior to considering surgical intervention.
Surgery versus physical therapy for treating lumbar spinal stenosis, Annals of Internal Medicine 2015;162 (7:1-32)
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