Spinal Stenosis Treatment Showdown: Physical Therapy vs Surgery | Blog

Spinal Stenosis Treatment Showdown: Physical Therapy vs Surgery

  Posted: Dec 16, 2019


Spinal Stenosis affects an estimated 2.4 million Americans and is a common cause of lower back pain in people over the age of 50. The American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons defines Spinal Stenosis as the compression of open spaces in the lower spinal column. It can lead to pinched nerves, tingling, and numbness in the lower back and legs, which can make it difficult to walk or stand for prolonged periods. Symptoms are usually relieved by sitting. Treatment for Stenosis can include oral medications, Physical Therapy, injections, and decompression surgery.

Considering Physical Therapy as Treatment

A recent article reported that Physical Therapy may work as well as surgery for improving symptoms of Spinal Stenosis. Dr. Anthony Delitto, Chair of Physical Therapy at the School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences at the University of Pittsburgh sought to determine if Physical Therapy was a safer alternative to surgical interventions while still easing symptoms. Dr. Delitto reported that, "Surgery is a risker procedure, with about a 15% complication rate and 50% of those were life threatening.” The study concluded both surgery and Physical Therapy were reasonable choices for managing pain and both had similar outcomes. While surgery has risks, Physical Therapy has no life-threatening complications. Surgery should always be considered as the last alternative, while Physical Therapy should be one of the first conservative treatments.

Liberty Rehab. is committed to making sure patients are educated on all treatment options available to assist in returning to previous enjoyable activities. Please stop by or give us a call and talk to one of our Doctors of Physical Therapy. We can also do a quick screen to see if Physical Therapy is right for you. We are here for you. Ready to schedule? Contact us.