Is Chiropractic Treatment Effective for Spinal Stenosis?

According to National Health Statistics reports 250,000-500,000 people in the U.S. have spinal stenosis symptoms. Spinal stenosis is a common medical condition that involves the narrowing of the spaces in the spine. This narrowing can compress nerve roots exiting the vertebrae and the spinal cord. This condition can be severely debilitating and may significantly impact a person’s quality of life, causing acute low-back pain, chronic low-back pain, nonspecific pain, facet pain, limited mobility, cramping, muscle weakness, tingling, and more.

Chiropractic treatment for spinal stenosis takes a holistic approach to wellness and addresses the underlying causes of the condition with the goal of improved mobility, reduced pain in adults, and long-term wellness.

At Foundations Spine and Well-Necessities, we have seen many of our patients overcome spinal stenosis with effective, safe, and gentle chiropractic treatment.

Is Chiropractic Treatment Effective for Spinal Stenosis?

Spinal stenosis is a condition that refers to the compressed or narrowed spaces between the spinal bones. Compression places excess pressure on the nerves found throughout the spine, which impacts the nerve’s signal relay function. This condition often occurs in the lower and upper back. Medical care is needed to help control and manage pain in adults and other related symptoms such as limited spine range and muscle weakness. The usual practice for spinal stenosis can involve medication to control pain, physical therapy, self-care through exercise, and in severe cases, surgery. But these health care services may not be very effective for everyone and in many cases simply mask the symptoms.

Person sitting at a desk with a strained neck

Chiropractic treatment is a wellness approach that targets healing with the use of spinal manipulation and with nonpharmacologic treatment. There’s reliable evidence that shows all-natural and non-invasive options are very effective for the treatment of spinal stenosis. Chiropractic care is an especially effective treatment option for spinal stenosis because it realigns and corrects herniated and dislocated discs, minimizing the pressure on the nerve networks, and reducing spinal cord compression.

Meet with a Chiropractor at Foundations Spine and Well-Necessities

At your initial visit, a chiropractor will examine you to determine an accurate diagnosis and create a custom treatment plan that will focus on relieving chronic low-back pain, nonspecific pain, or neck pain, and improve your range of motion, by addressing the underlying cause of your severe pain.

Aside from spinal manipulation, a chiropractor at our facility will use a variety of techniques that will address the symptoms of spinal stenosis.

For example, we can use expert massage during a session to help reduce severe pain and inflammation. We can also use a variety of tools that can restore function to the muscles or address numbness.

Physiotherapy and personalized exercises, which are also part of chiropractic treatment, can reduce severe pain and will result in improved flexibility and optimal spinal support and health.

Health care treatment such as spinal decompression involves spine extension, which helps to create more space between the vertebrae, relieving pressure on the spinal cord and the nerves in the spine region.

Symptoms of Spinal Stenosis

The openings in the spinal column can narrow at any point in the back. The symptoms a person may experience with spinal stenosis can depend on the severity of the condition and the spine region that is affected. Pain severity can also vary.

Symptoms can come on gradually or may seem to have a sudden onset. Symptoms can worsen with certain activities such as weight lifting or jogging. Aggressive treatment cannot cure spinal stenosis, but it can help relieve pain, improve range of motion and flexibility.

Common symptoms can include:

Chronic Pain

Spinal stenosis is commonly found in the lumbar spine or cervical spine. Pain severity can range from mild to severe pain. Acute neck pain, chronic neck pain, or chronic low-back pain can be very debilitating. It can begin as localized, dull pain or discomfort just in the lower back or between the shoulders. For some people, the constant pain feels like a sharp, intense electrical pain that shoots into the arms or through the hips and legs. Adult neck pain, acute low-back pain, buttock pain, and dermatomal pain can improve with certain activities or worsen with others.

Tingling or Loss of Sensation

In some cases, a patient may not experience severe pain and may just have tingling and numbness in the affected areas, although this is rare. Tingling and numbness can also accompany dermatomal pain and may affect different parts of the body.


The bones give the body structure, but the muscles are what allow a person to move. The muscles maintain coordination and balance, and the brain has to be able to send and receive messages from the muscles. When there is nerve damage or the nerves are not functioning appropriately, it can impact the brain’s ability to receive this information. This can result in difficulty bearing weight or moving and may lead to severe muscle weakness. There are also nerve roots located in the spine that control bowel and bladder functions. When these nerve roots are compressed, it can result in bowel or urinary incontinence.

Spinal Stenosis Causes

In most cases, spinal stenosis is caused by degenerative conditions, which includes:

Degenerative Disc Disease

When the discs between the vertebrae break down or become dehydrated, the spaces between the bones will get smaller. This places pressure on the nerves as they exit the spinal canal causing acute or chronic low-back pain. This disease will also contribute to bulging discs, a condition that can also place pressure on the spinal cord.


According to the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases, osteoarthritis is a type of inflammatory arthritis that affects the cartilage in the spine. As the cartilage wears down and thins, the vertebrae can place pressure on the nerve roots and spinal cord. In areas where the cartilage is very thin, the bones may begin to rub together, which can cause bone overgrowth, referred to as bone spurs or osteophytes. Bone overgrowth can also increase the amount of pressure that’s placed on the nerve roots. The bone overgrowth itself is not painful, but the effects the bone overgrowth has on nearby structures such as the spinal cord and nerves can result in severe pain.

Ligament Buckling or Thickening

There’s a lot of connective tissue that passes through the spinal canal and surrounds the spine. These tissues can harden or thicken with some conditions. When these ligaments thicken or harden it reduces the spaces in the spinal canal, causing significant amounts of pain. The hardening or thickening of the ligaments can compress the nerve roots and the spinal cord. With certain types of genetic diseases, the connective tissues can buckle and loosen, creating a narrow point in the spinal canal. Deformities of the spine, such as cysts, tumors, or scoliosis, can also create these narrow points.


Spinal Stenosis can also result from an injury, such as a patient with an intrinsic spine compression fracture history. This condition is also common in patients with spinal injuries caused by a car accident or sports accident, or any time the vertebra is fractured or dislocated.

Who is Susceptible to Spinal Stenosis?

Spinal stenosis is typically the result of degenerative conditions. Because of this, it’s more commonly found in people over the age of fifty. However, a younger person may suffer from the condition as well, but it’s often due to a genetic condition, spinal deformity, or the result of an injury.

How Chiropractic Care Can Help Relieve Constant Pain-Chiropractic & Manual Therapies

Traditional medical care is not always the answer. If you have spinal stenosis and you’re looking for an alternative treatment to painful surgery and other common medical treatments, chiropractic treatment can be a great solution. Active treatment is both effective and safe and many patients will see an improvement in their symptoms within the first sixty days. Depending on the cause of spinal stenosis, a chiropractor will use a combination of techniques to improve a patient’s quality of life and may recommend other treatments that can help to increase the effectiveness of chiropractic treatment. These alternative therapies and complementary health approaches can include advanced biostructural therapy, shockwave therapy,  chiropractic adjustments, massage therapy, acupuncture treatment, and physical therapy.

Physical Therapy Program

A key to improving range of motion and reducing pain is physical fitness, and physical therapy can help significantly when combined with chiropractic treatment. Having stiff or weak muscles in the back or core can contribute to poor posture. This places extra strain and stress on the spine, which can worsen a person’s spinal stenosis symptoms. A physical therapy program will focus on manipulative therapy, addressing any gaps in fitness to prevent further injury to the spine, and will include spine stabilization exercises. Manipulative therapy can also help maintain the proper spacing between the vertebrae, thus reducing the pressure placed on the nerve roots and spinal cord. A chiropractor will work with a patient’s physical therapist to formulate a manual therapy treatment plan that will complement a patient’s chiropractic treatments.

Chiropractic Manipulation-a Noninvasive Treatment Option

When the spine is properly aligned it runs straight down the center of the back. The spine should have a gentle S curve to it when viewed from the side. Any variation can result in pressure on the root nerves and spinal cord. A chiropractor will use specialized equipment and chiropractic manipulation to restore alignment. When the spine is properly aligned the nerves can heal and resume normal function.

Treatment can help to relieve:

  • Acute low-back pain
  • Chronic low-back pain
  • Chronic neck pain
  • Nonspecific pain
  • Intermittent pain
  • Facet pain

When combined with a physical therapy plan, massage therapy, and other treatments, chiropractic care can be very effective and can prevent the need for surgery or pain medication use.

Spinal Stenosis and Pain Management-Opioid Therapy

There are many prescription and over-the-counter pain medications that can help a person cope with the pain caused by spinal stenosis. However, a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug or opioid therapy only provides a temporary solution. These medications will not correct or address the causative factor of spinal stenosis or the pain it causes. The increased use of pain medications without addressing the root cause of the condition can lead to over-dependence on pain medication and adverse effects, such as gastrointestinal conditions. Nonpharmacologic treatment can be much more effective in managing pain caused by spinal stenosis.

Medication cannot address the loss of balance, numbness and tingling, impaired mobility, or muscle weakness. Because of this, people diagnosed with spinal stenosis require a more comprehensive approach to treatment, one that uses natural, holistic ways to manage pain and addresses the underlying cause of the symptoms, without the risk of adverse effects.

Surgery Vs. Chiropractic Care

Unlike surgery, chiropractic treatment is non-invasive and does not require a painful, long recovery time. Surgery for spinal stenosis can require the surgeon to remove portions of the vertebrae to reduce the pressure on the nerves. In some cases, they may also need to widen the spaces where the nerves exit. Surgical treatment for spinal stenosis can be done in several areas of the spine and metal implants or bone grafts are often used. Unfortunately, surgery cannot prevent the risk of recurrence of spinal stenosis.

A chiropractor will create a personalized treatment plan that will address a patient’s pain issues, mobility problems, and other symptoms. They will also provide exercise with advice to patients to help improve mobility. Treatment is safe, gentle, and effective.

Our chiropractors will also work closely with a patient’s other medical specialists to ensure their patient is receiving proper care and the right therapies that can help improve the patient’s quality of life.

Contact Foundations Spine and Well-Necessities Today

If you’re suffering from pain, mobility issues, balance issues, and other symptoms due to spinal stenosis, contact the team at Foundations Spine and Well-Necessities today to schedule an appointment. Our experienced, knowledgeable chiropractors will work closely with you to create a personalized treatment plan that will help reduce your pain, improve flexibility, and set you on your path to wellness.

Interested in learning more? Subscribe to Foundations Spine & Well-necessities!

We’ll send informational newsletters every week on tips, research, and effective ways to improve your health!
linkedin facebook pinterest youtube rss twitter instagram facebook-blank rss-blank linkedin-blank pinterest youtube twitter instagram